Chinese ports continue recovery

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by Emily Atkins

Import and export ocean shipment volumes have continued to bounce back at Chinese ports over the past weeks as Covid-19 lockdowns have eased.

Volume at the Port of Shanghai has increased since mid-May, with the 14-day average ocean shipment volume now up five percent compared to March 12th (the day before lockdowns went into effect) and up five percent week-over-week for shipments tracked by FourKites. This is up from mid-May, where shipment volume was down as much as 25 percent over the same period. 

For other Chinese ports, volume tracked by FourKites has remained strong, with volume at the Port of Shenzhen up 35 percent (up seven percent week-over-week) and volume at the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan up 23 percent (down 10 percent week-over-week) compared to March 12th.

Increases in trans-Pacific

Strong recovery also continues in shipment volume traveling from China to the United States. The 14-day average shipment volume for loads traveling from China to the United States is now down only 14 percent compared to levels seen on March 12th, but down 11 percent compared to last week.

Volume along this lane had previously reached a low of 43 percent lower in mid to late April. Delays remain elevated however, with the 14-day average percentage of shipments delayed along this lane now at 38 percent compared to 37 percent last week and the high of 39 percent seen in mid to late April.

“While the situation is easing up, we are nowhere near the shipping volumes and transit times we saw before COVID,” said Philippe Salles, vice-president of strategic solutions (ocean) at FourKites.

“Going forward, supply chains will likely get more complex. One area to watch is ocean shipment transit times. I expect new emissions regulations to come from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 2023, which will likely result in a reduction of ship speeds. As such, we will see more delays and uncertainty in global supply chains.”

Longer transit times

Average transit times for loads arriving in the United States from Shanghai remain elevated compared to before the lockdowns went into effect. The 60-day average transit time for shipments traveling from Shanghai to the United States is now at 74.6 days, up 49 percent from March 12th and down one percent from last week.

Dwell times for export shipments for Chinese ports has shown some signs of recovery over the past weeks. The 14-day average ocean dwell time for export shipments tracked by FourKites is now at 7.2 days, an increase of seven percent compared to March 12th and an increase of 12 percent week-over-week.

This is down 18 percent from the high seen earlier in June. Import dwell time at Chinese ports remains above levels seen before the lockdown, with the 14-day average ocean dwell time now at 4.4 days. This is a 10 percent increase compared to March 12th and a decrease of five percent week-over-week.

FourKites has also continued to see a recovery in over-the-road and rail/intermodal shipment volume in the city of Shanghai. The 14-day average shipment volume for loads being delivered to Shanghai is now down 38 percent compared to March 12th, but has also declined 25 percent over the past week. Volume being picked up from Shanghai is relatively stable with no change from last week, but is still down 75 percent compared to March 12th.