Covid-19 outbreak causes longer waiting times at Guangdong ports

Traders and logistics firms are coping with longer waiting times and greater challenges to ship goods after some ports in Guangdong province, the top trading and manufacturing region for the country, encounter backlogs ahead of a busy Christmas export season due to tighter epidemic prevention measures as new Covid-19 cases emerged. At Yantian Port, which is responsible for more than one-third of Guangdong's foreign trade and one-fourth of China's trade with the U.S., the “butterfly effect” has begun to emerge with slow port operations, crowded docks and delayed shipping dates, industry insiders told the Global Times. Many cargoes have had to move to neighboring ports, which are now facing backlogs as well. “Goods delivery is slow, and you have to book in advance to get to the port,” a manager with Shenzhen YF Logistics said. Many ships are waiting to dock at the port, and some are choosing other ports. The nearby Shekou Port is also congested because of the influx of many cargo ships.

Zhang Manfeng, Assistant Director of the Guangdong Shoe Manufacturers Chamber of Commerce, said that shoe exporters face longer shipping times and higher rates. “What normally takes one day to be loaded on ships now takes about a week,” said Zhang, noting that the container price is also at least 20% higher. The port congestion is the result of tight anti-epidemic measures amid surging local Covid-19 cases. Six new local cases were confirmed in the province on June 5, including one from India that was detected in Shenzhen.

Industry insiders said that given the ongoing global epidemic, ports will be under pressure for some time. What happened at Yantian is expected to have a temporary and limited impact on the global supply chain, Kang Shuchun, Director of the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said. But what is really hurting companies are the high freight rates since the second half of last year. “Due to the epidemic conditions in some other countries, containers that leave China can't come back on time,” said Kang. Sea shipping accounts for more than 90% of China's foreign trade, the Global Times reports.