Container ship loading and unloading in deep sea port at sunset,

All importers should be aware that there are currently common delays exporting goods from China due to a lack of containers, evidently resulting in orders arriving late for business all over the world.

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 economies after lockdowns were put in place in the early days of COVID-19.

In addition, as the US & Europe announce repeat lockdowns and production levels decrease, there becomes a lack of goods being imported into China. As of now, carriers are experiencing difficulties repositioning the empty containers for return to load ports in Asia, particularly in China.

Our Managing Director Adam Gilbourne answers your questions on delays caused by a lack of containers.

“Can I change my freight company or shipping line to ensure I get a container and my goods are shipped?”

Adam Gilbourne – “Unfortunately not, a lack of containers in China affects all shipping lines, thus all freight forward companies. Exporters and manufacturers in China are just as urgent to export goods. The accumulation of goods in factories and ports has increased the pressure on storage.

So you can rest assured, manufactures and freight forward companies are doing everything they can to send goods out of China, though delays will be common until the supply and demand of containers returns to a normal equilibrium.”

“Can I pay more money for my shipping to ensure I receive my stock?”

Adam Gilbourne – “We are often asked this question during peak periods when there is a lack of space with shipping lines. Freight costs have already risen sharply in recent months as foreign markets deferred purchases earlier in the year and production surged in China. Through the epidemic, fewer flights and fewer logistics channels have led to an increase in the cost of available logistics channels.

In short, the current issues with delays around the lack of containers in China cannot be solved ‘by money’. This is a global phenomenon due to the waves of disruption across supply chains around the world in 2020.”

“When will the situation return to normal?”

Adam Gilbourne – “We believe we are in the worst of it now and expect supply levels of containers to improve towards the end of November, hopefully back to normal levels in December.

However, we are advising our clients to take extra caution when planning orders between now and Chinese New Year. Most manufactures already have exceptionally long lead times but for those who are still able to produce before Chinese New Year, we would not be surprised to see other major disruptions at the end of December into January.

There is usually a rush to export goods before Chinese New Year, a period when manufactures close for 2 – 4 weeks. We fully expect to see pressures on supply chains continue this year therefore some time will be needed to restore the normal transportation status.”