The Impact of the Suez Canal Blockage on Global Shipping
The recent situation in the Suez Canal resulting in the containership Ever Given blocking the enitre canal for days, could not have happened at a worse time due to to the current extremely high shipping demands. Global shipping, the industry that transports steel boxes full of products around the global economy, was already reporting record highs and operating at full capacity.
The Port of Long Beach reported its busiest month ever in March 2021 as imports continued to pour into U.S. seaports. The congestion resulting from the Suez canal is not directly affecting operations at the Port of Long Beach according to Noel Hacegaba, the deputy executive director with the Port. However, as companies search for alternative routes, Long Beach could experience an increased amount of ships docked offshore in the coming weeks.
Trade Routes Further Slowed
Ship congestion outside the biggest U.S. gateway for Asian imports remained elevated with the wait to offload containers lengthening to eight days, which added costs and complications for companies trying to stay well-stocked in an accelerating economy.
All of the above considered, the Suez Canal blockage only further slowed trade flows. Rolf Habben Jansen, chief executive officer of Hapag-Lloyd AG, reported “Box availability will be tight for the next six to eight weeks.” Specifically citing ports in the U.K. and in Rotterdam, Europe’s largest for ocean cargo, among the gateways facing delays.
Jansen went on to say, “we hope to get back to some kind of normalcy toward the end of the second quarter or early in the third quarter, but that certainly is not a given and is probably a bit of a best-case scenario but not impossible.”
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