Oversea Freight Update – April/May
Since the covid outbreak, moving goods internationally has become an experience often fraught with congestion, a lack of equipment and delays. Below is a summary of the current issues on major regions.
The knock-on effect of last month’s Suez Canal blockage has now hit Asia, resulting in a massive shortage of containers and limited space on vessels. This has crippled supply chains throughout the globe as booking availability is extremely low and is expected to continue that way through May and June.
The Asia/Europe and Transpacific trades had been suffering with space issues since the outbreak of Covid, but the delays in the canal led to many vessels coming to a standstill for seven days. While a week’s delay hardly seems major, hundreds of thousands of containers have been stuck on vessels and delayed further by heightened port congestion, leading to a major shortage.
It is hoped that schedules will be back on track and container availability will improve by July. However, as a result of the current market conditions, rates have spiralled and many shipments have been unable to move.
European road freight continues to be challenging right now. Driver shortages and covid restrictions are heavily impacting the market, with many European transport companies being less willing to travel in and out of the UK following the customs formalities that came in with Brexit.
Rates remain high, equipment with drivers in high demand and services sporadic. For dangerous goods, in particular, we are unable to rely on some of the services that we used previously and it is taking us longer to confirm pricing, so please bear with us.
June may see some easing of congestion on crossings as both P&O and Irish Ferries are introducing an extra vessel on the Dover/Calais route.
Port congestion and transport shortages have gone from very bad to worse over recent weeks, with the whole of the USA now impacted in one way or another by the crisis. Internal movements of containers by road or rail are being delayed in many cases and there is little expectation of improvement in the near future.
The recent port strike in Montreal has added to delays in the US North East, US Mid-West and Canada, although Canadian government intervention led to a return to work within a week of the industrial action starting.
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