‘Not much has changed’ at China’s ports, despite traditional post-CNY lull

Source: The Loadstar
Date: 15th February 2022

The traditional post-new year (CNY) lull has helped ease China’s port congestion, but cargo backlogs and container shortages are still propping up rates.

In South China, for example, services at Yantian, Shekou and Guangzhou are back to normal, according to a reliable source.

And in North China, Qingdao and Tianjin are also operating normally, the source said, but Shanghai remains the exception, given the port is still suffering “serious congestion”, with most vessels delayed by a week.

However, the reliable source said the capacity situation had improved in Shanghai since the holiday, adding: “But space is still tight with many vessels having blank sailings and omitted service following the lunar new year closings in China. High volumes of cargo that were rolled before the holiday are still taking up space for departures.”

There’s a similar situation at Ningbo, with “many vessels delayed for the coming weeks”, and space remaining just as tight as before CNY.

But Shenzhen and Hong Kong are faring better, with low activity during the first week after the holiday. However, there are still some local Covid issues to contend with. “On 8 February, several CFS warehouses in Shenzhen stopped receiving cargo due to Covid restrictions. The area still has some in place, causing local delays for factories and transport.”

As The Loadstar reported on Friday, the post-CNY lull has led to a slight softening of spot rates, with prices to Europe down by 4%, to $14,258 per 40ft, and on the transpacific by just 1%, to $10,437 per 40ft.

Freight rates were behaving differently this year, because “any respite from lower manufacturing activity is quickly filled by the backlog in exports already prepared and waiting to be exported, either at the warehouse or already in the terminal”.

Likewise, equipment shortages are also helping to keep rates elevated and also hoping this CNY would act as a ‘circuit breaker’ [for freight rates], but early indications are that not much has changed.

“For example, Northern China is currently experiencing a higher degree of equipment shortages, and therefore rates are significantly higher than the rest of the country.”

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