With Asian ports now fully operational, regional differences are more pronounced

According to the weekly IAPH-WPSP Barometer report, regional differences are becoming increasingly pronounced in terms of global impact of the COVID19 crisis on ports.

IAPH Managing Director Patrick Verhoeven said that Asian ports are fully operational and show promising signs in terms of a recovery.  On the other hand, European ports are gradually returning to the “new normal”, and ports in regions such as South America and Africa are having to adapt to the contagion which is in many cases now reaching a peak there.

Some ports in Asia from the WPSP COVID19 Task Force are forecasting a recovery by the end of May and beginning of June in terms of container vessel liner services, which will have a corresponding positive knock-on impact between six to eight weeks later in regions such as Europe and North America. 

Report co-author Professor Theo Notteboom commented: “We are starting to see some lines re-introduce sailings on the main East-West trades which they had previously shelved. We have also received reports from East Africa of a return of liner services out of Asia this week, which is a positive development.”

Blank sailings, mainly on trade routes with the Far East, are clearly affecting this week’s results for container vessels.  About 45% of the ports are reporting that the number of container vessel calls fell by 5 to 25% compared to a normal situation (34% last week).  

The share of ports facing a significant drop (in excess of 25%) in container vessels calls reaches 8%, a figure that is about 2 percent below the results of weeks 17, 18 and 20, but much higher than what could be observed in weeks 15 and 16. 

The share of ports reporting reductions in other cargo vessel calls of more than 25% increased further to 16% (vs. 12 to 15% throughout weeks 16 to 20).  Less than half of the ports mentioned that the number of calls by other cargo vessels is rather stable compared to a normal situation.

In North America, the situation for container vessels calls has rapidly deteriorated in the past weeks.  This week, already 71% of responding ports witnessed a 5% to 25% reduction in container vessel calls, a figure that is much higher than the world average.

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