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‘Cargo Is Moving Again’: ‘Disruptive’ Restrictions Still Jamming South China Ports

Dwell times at major Shenzhen, China, ports tracked by Project44 remain disruptively high, despite trending downward in recent days, with the Port of Yantian at full capacity again.

Project44, a visibility platform for shippers and logistics service providers, said in a new report released Wednesday that data suggests the disruptions related to China’s Covid-19 quarantine efforts could extend well into the year, impacting seasonal shipments as far out as Christmas. Last month, Chinese authorities restricted operations at the Port of Yantian in an effort to slow a Covid-19 outbreak in the region, creating a massive cargo bottleneck at the port, the report noted.

Despite the port operating at full capacity again, the backlog is affecting the region’s manufacturing sector and consequently “presenting a headache for shippers,” said Project44, which connects, automates and provides visibility into key transportation processes to accelerate insights and shorten the time it takes to turn those insights into actions.

As of July 1, the rolling seven-day average dwell times were 12.9 days for outbound cargo and 4.2 days for inbound cargo. The report said while these numbers are high by pre-pandemic measurements, they are well below last month’s high of 25.4 days on June 22.

“High port of lading dwell times suggest that port workers are still working their way through a massive backlog of cargo that has built up over the last month, both at the port, and in factories and warehouses across the region,” Project44 said. “This corroborates reports that some factories have paused production due to lack of space, causing further supply chain delays that will be felt for months to come.”

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While yard density in Yantian is said to be down to 65 percent and overall productivity has increased to 85 percent of normal levels, the impact on the Yantian port is also affecting some of the neighboring ports of Shekou, Nansha and Hong Kong, the report noted.

Figures for blank sailings, when a ship skips a particular port of call, are also on the rise, reaching 17 on July 1, and 12 on July 2. While these are well below last month’s high of 26 blank sailings on June 11, they represent 189,203 and 107,326 TEU (20-foot equivalent units) of total vessel capacity bypassing the port.

“While we can see that cargo is moving through the port again, this event is shaping up to be one of the most disruptive of the year,” Josh Brazil, vice president of marketing at Project44, said. “This is yet another reminder to shippers that disruptions can happen at any point, and that it’s increasingly important that they gain full visibility into their shipments, diversify and bolster their supply chains, and do everything possible to get ahead of events like these that are inevitable in today’s world.”