Significant Port Delays In China Due To Country’s Zero-Tolerance COVID-19 Policy

A huge number of Chinese ports have been facing congestion as cargo processing has been sluggish and vessels due to call at Ningbo are being diverted due to stringent disinfection measures under the country’s “zero-tolerance” Covid-19 policy.

On Tuesday, over 50 container ships had been queuing at China’s second-largest marine centre – the Ningbo port. Refinitiv data revealed, up from 28 on 10 August when a COVID-19 case had been reported at one of the terminals.

Leading shipping groups have already warned clients of potential delays and possible route adjustments. Nearly 14 vessels operated by the CMA CGM, four Hapag-Lloyd, and five Maersk vessels have decided to skip Ningbo altogether. On the other hand, dozens of vessels have started readjusting their schedules.

China Merchants Port Holdings Company
Representation Image

China’s economy has been losing momentum once again as new coronavirus guidelines have been implemented. Supply chains globally continue to encounter further waves. These add the curbs adding to queues at the major transportation hubs of the country.

The situation is aggravated by an increasing shortage of container ships, the resurgence of consumer spending, and logjams at Chinese ports.

The Ministry of Transportation in China has strictly ordered all Chinese ports to have special teams that will deal with foreign vessels. It has also mandated crews to have negative tests or health certificates before permitting them to discharge and load cargo.

Ports have their own set of rules. Some Chinese ports, especially those in high-risk regions like Russia, India, and Laos are taking additional precautions for vessels that stopped at ports in high-risk regions, such as in the past three weeks.

Dawn Tiura, the CEO of Sourcing Industry Group, said that China’s zero-tolerance policy is commendable for the ongoing pandemic. However, it may be bad for the supply chain.

Vessels that had been scheduled to call at the terminal are now getting re-routed to their nearby ports. The Shanghai port had almost 35 vessels awaiting anchorage, compared to the 27 on 10 August. The number of vessels in queue at China’s Xiamen port went up to 18 on Tuesday from only four recorded last week.

Cargoes have been piling up at China’s ports owing to the tight labor force from relevant departments and portside while increasing shipments weighed. China has always been an essential part of the global supply chain. Any shutdown or delay can delay finished goods two to three tiers out.


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