Chinese shipping indices show a surge in the price of shipping goods out of two major Chinese ports. The Shanghai Containerized Freight Index and the Ningbo Containerized Freight Index, representing two of the three biggest container ports in the world, maintain levels three times as high as a year ago, showing an increase in demand driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
While the fourth quarter of the calendar year usually sees an increased demand – and increased price - for shipping out of Asia as the Western world heads into the holiday season, a strong post-lockdown restocking demand elevated the indices to new heights in December and January. Shipping prices also surged because containers in Asia are becoming scarcer, instead piling up in North American and European ports. While the first wave of lockdowns in the coronavirus pandemic caused major economic turmoil and suppressed consumer spending, more workplaces are staying open during the second wave and people are spending again, favoring goods as services spending is still majorly restricted by coronavirus rules.
According to the New York Times, the development has led to long wait times for docking space in the L.A. and Long Beach ports. According to the report, coronavirus-related shortages of personnel and equipment have been slowing the ports down as they deal with incoming cargo. Some companies are even turning to extremely expensive air freight to shorten waits for their customers. Since some containers are immediately shipped back to Asian ports empty to fill gaps in supply there, American exporters are also scrambling to find containers for their wares.