Most Asian ports report full return to operations

The weekly IAPH-WPSP Port Economic Impact Barometer reports significant drops in extra port restrictions and delays due to changes in port call procedures.  However, the WPSP-IAPH COVID19 Task Force said it was still a mixed picture, with the global reach of the pandemic still being felt in varying degrees depending on region.

For the last three weeks, most ports in the Asia Region have reported a full return to activities as the contagion has diminished there.  Ports in China reported a significant increase in domestic cargo transits which is compensating in part for reduced international volumes. 

Nonetheless in early May, container throughput overall of the eight major Chinese hub ports dropped by 7.3% year-on-year, and half of the ports dropped by more than 15% year-on-year, according to recent data from the China Ports and Harbors Association. 

Foreign trade was particularly affected, with throughput falling by 13.4 per cent year-on-year. With the exception of Port of Tianjin’s year-on-year growth, all other ports reduced in varying degrees. 

Also, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore newly published figures, there was a 5% drop in overall container volumes in the month of April.

These figures may in part explain the impact in some ports in Europe and North America on warehouse and port quayside utilization, where falls in import volumes are beginning to be felt. 

Authors of the Barometer report has detected a trend where either capacity shortages or major utilization increases are on the decrease, whereas incidents of minor to severe under-utilization of warehousing facilities and less distribution activities are on the increase.

The report co-author Professor Theo Notteboom, says: “With global container volumes down overall between 8-10% and imports from Asia down between 10-15%, European and North American businesses are operating on survival mode to preserve cash, retaining existing stocks and where possible, deploying suspension or detention of transit requests for goods already on their way.” 

“We expect the main impact on Western ports in May and June as the blank sailings in the container sector peak.”

Image credit: hxdyl / Shutterstock.com

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