Major shipping lines operating in Asia, including Maersk, have warned about possible shipping delays and re-routing on the Asia-Chinese routes. New COVID-19 restrictions of around 14 days at various ports in the region forced shipping lines to divert many cargoes headed for South China.
Resurgence in COVID-19 cases in Guangdong province is causing delays at the heavy-traffic South Chinese ports like Yantian, Shekou and Nansha.
Maersk, Ocean Network Express (ONE), COSCO Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd and OOCL combinedly listed more than 100 vessels impacted by the congestion.
Maersk announced that “Yantian International Container Terminal (YICT) yard density remains elevated with disinfection and quarantine measures being continuously implemented by local authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” It expects terminal congestion and vessel delays to continue for at least another week.
YICT one of China’s busiest container ports has an annual handling volume of more than 13mn twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). It is a major gateway into China with around 100 vessels calling weekly, 60pc of which operate on European and American routes. On Monday, Yantian partly resumed processing — after enforcing stringent quarantine measures from May 21 — by when more than 23,000 containers were waiting to be exported.
This could lead to long-running US West Coast congestion and equipment shortages. Global container shipping rates which are already at a record high could remain elevated due to bottlenecks.