Asia Shipping Issues

Back-to-back typhoons and surging shipping demand have meant lengthy vessel delays for ocean freight out of Asia.

Typhoon Haishen made landfall south-east of Gangneung in South Korea on 7 September, following Typhoon Maysak, which struck near the port of Busan on 3 September with winds of 100 mph.

“Due to the short interval between the typhoons, ports have been unable to reduce backlogs at container terminals and closures forced by Typhoon Haishen will further add to the congestion.”

The ports of Busan and Gwangyang have experienced five days of waiting times for incoming vessels, Resilience360 noted, while in China, Shanghai and Ningbo are also dealing with congestion issues.

“Shipping lines reported waiting times of 36-48 hours at terminals in Shanghai and 24-48 hours in Ningbo, ahead of Typhoon Haishen last weekend. Both ports were closed for at least 24 hours on September 6 and 7, likely worsening congestion levels as well,” it added.

Surging demand for ocean freight space out of China, ahead of October’s Golden Week holiday, is creating delays, too, both in China and South-east Asia.

intra-Asia volumes had also been strong, which was adding to “vessel bunching” in the major ports in China and Vietnam.

All shipping lines are also experiencing equipment shortage, especially for 40ft boxes in Asia casting doubt
as to whether the international supply chain will be ready for the upcoming peak shipping season.

The container imbalance has been caused primarily by the spike in imports to the US and Europe in July and August following the reopening of their economies following lockdowns put in place in the early days of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Now, carriers are having difficulties repositioning the empty containers for return to load ports in Asia, especially China,according to carriers and non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOs). Containers of all sizes — 20-foot, 40-foot, and 40-foot high-cube — are in short supply.

Shipping lines have warned that the equipment shortages and unreliable vessel scheduling will only get worse.