World maritime transport, the most widely used means of transport for major global trade transactions, is experiencing a real increase in costs since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the restructuring of port calls, blank sailings and the significant increase in maritime freight rates, two other situations have had a significant impact on the sector in recent months: the blockage in the Suez Canal and the collapse of the Chinese port of Yantian, which has led to a significant increase in costs.
Recently, and after 107 days of blockade in the Egyptian waters of the Suez Canal, the container ship “Ever Given” has resumed sailing towards the Dutch port of Rotterdam. A collapse that had a negative impact on the shipping market as it delayed calls, congested many ports and caused, in some cases, a lack of supplies. It cannot be overlooked that the Suez Canal is the main commercial artery between Europe and Asia.
In Stock Logistic, with an important offer of maritimes services in the world, we have been and continue to be alert to any movement on the global chessboard that could condition any international maritime operations.
China’s Yantian port paralysed
To this storm, which began in 2020 and has continued this year, we must add the latest episode: the paralysis of the Chinese port of Yantian due to an outbreak of coronavirus. Faced with this situation, the Chinese authorities decided to implement quarantines and controls so that its docks operated at less than 30% of their capacity. An episode that has caused readjustments in almost all ship departures, generating a bottleneck that has once again had a direct impact on maritime freight rates, which have more than quadrupled since February according to the SCFI index. This is yet another bottleneck for an international maritime system that is practically at the limit of its capacity.
A handicap for the competitiveness of the business fabric
The upward trend in prices, according to many experts, has important effects on the competitiveness of the business fabric, which is highly dependent on production or manufactured goods arriving from the East. The continuous rise in maritime freight rates is hampering the competitiveness of a sector in which any change affects all the links in the logistics chain. In fact, transport accounts for up to 10% of the total costs of large companies, so any variation in this structure can lead to costs running into millions of dollars.