Congestions deepen at the world's ports as pandemic strikes shipping
The global shipping network that keeps food, energy and consumer goods circulating -- and the world economy afloat -- is facing its biggest stress test in memory.
Maritime trade came under the microscope after a Japanese-owned megaship ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking the busy channel for nearly a week.
When many countries began easing Covid-19 restrictions late last summer, a wave of pent-up demand from hunkered-down consumers bingeing on internet purchases delivered a shock to supply lines.
But since the end of 2020, vessels have piled up outside overburdened Western ports, leaving Asian exporters clamouring for the return of empty containers needed for further shipments.
At Lianyungang -– China's 10th-busiest port, according to the World Shipping Council –- desperate firms are pressing rail-cargo containers into maritime service, placing rush orders for new ones, and rerouting some shipping to other Chinese ports.
The price to ship a 40-foot container from Lianyungang to the United States has soared to more than $10,000, from the usual $2,000-$3,000, Shi said.
The situation is "putting pressure on everyone in the supply chain", he said.
American consumer demand has been a key driver.
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