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Date:2021-7-16  click:1642

Unprecedented levels of congestion are resulting in vessel delays that are absorbing needed capacity. Operational instability increases.

New COVID-19 outbreaks in Shenzhen (Yantian) in late May had led to temporary restrictions on export cargo, causing container yard and hinterland congestions and up to 84 vessels waiting outside the port to berth. Yantian International Container Terminals (YICT) was operating at only 30% capacity of its shoreside capacity after preventive working procedures had been implemented to avoid further circulation of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Full operations has meanwhile restarted again but it will take several weeks to clear the impact on supply chains. It is expected that the effect will be of bigger magnitude than the disruption caused by the “Ever Given” blocking the Suez Canal and this just before the upcoming peak season.

“Ever Given” (Evergreen) was blocking the Suez Canal

Meanwhile on the other side of the pacific the USA is experiencing extreme capacity issues affecting rail, trucking and chassis. The record number of inbound volume from various regions into the country are resulting in delays due to lack of rail cars, delays in delivering cargo as truckers are booked two to three weeks out and chassis are at a deficit. While the transportation delays emanate mainly from suppliers in Asia, manufacturers in Europe and North America are most affected by delivery delays. With consumer demand expected to grow at a rapid pace through 2021, transportation delays are likely to continue into 2022.

Here is the market outlook in July 2021 month-on-month development of major trades for viewers’ reference:

Capacity and Rates of major trades area in July 2021


The specific situation of every area has few noted information, which is summarized as below:


  • ASPA – EURO: The market remains strong and the space situation persist to be tight in July. Vessels delays continue to lead to port congestions and tight equipment situation. In addition, delays at Yantian and South China port expected to continue.
  • ASPA – AMNO: The space and equipment situation remains tight and rates will continue to go up in July. The omission of the Yantian port will have a further negative impact as carriers try to clear the backlog.
  • ASPA – AMLA: Demand remains strong and pushes the rates to historical new high. Incidents such as Yantian omissions and Colombia strike are not helping the situation to cool down. A new service was introduced to the market but is enough to accommodate the strong demand. Current market situation expected to last until end of the year.
  • ASPA – MENAT: Rates continue to spike into record levels across all MEA regions. Demand/supply gap remains evident in June, worsen to some extend by South China port congestions and trucking difficulties, which currently accounts for a backlog of at least 2 weeks across all exporters. Further GRIs are expected in July.
  • ASPA – ASPA: Space and equipment shortage at Asian ports remains for the month July. Delays are expected as schedule reliability at all-time low. Accurate forecast and 3-4 weeks advance booking remain a necessity in the current market. Situation expected to remain at least till mid of July. Expect continued vessel omissions and delays at Yantian port till mid July. For IPBC, advance booking 3-4 weeks remains a necessity for FAK bookings.



  •  EURO – AMNO: Some carriers quoting FAK rates on monthly base only (up to end of July). Carriers hesitating to sign long-term deals on certain lanes. We see limited blank sailings but still a lot of port-omissions. Schedule reliability still bad and heavily impacting the trade. Port/Rail/Intermodal challenges continue, slowing down the overall supply chains. St. Lawrence water levels remain extraordinary low, impacting the possible loading capacity of the vessels. West Coast congestion continues, forcing carriers to change their service portfolio (eg Hamburg Sued cancelling Vancouver and Seattle Calls) other restructurings are likely to follow.
  • EURO – ASPA +MEA: Equipment is still very tight in entire north Europe. Space remained tight throughout June with additional blank sailings, especially by The Alliance in July. Announced rate increases for Q3 for IPBC & ME. In addition to that we have received for Q3 in July for IPBC&ME increased rates where as Asia rates remain stable.
  • AMNO – EURO: FAK rates will increase in Q3 from USEC , Gulf & USWC. Some Rail inland rates are being adjusted upwards. Although The Alliance is introducing larger ships on the AL3, the capacity will level off with the suspension of the AL1 service.
  • AMNO – ASPA: No change in capacity, as carriers are still limiting the space back to Asia. Strong increase in rates due to GRI every 15 days.
  • AMLA Exports:

AMLA – AMNO : Upcoming blank sailings will put further strain in market during next few weeks. Space is at premium (some markets already overbooked for July) while GRI’s continue to be implemented. Port congestions / omissions & equipment deficit still continues through the region.

AMLA – ASPA : Supply in tonnage/trades allocation remains unchanged with tight supply/demand situation, aggravated even more by the equipment imbalance. As a result rates are expected to increase further.

AMLA – EURO, MENAT & SSA : Equipment shortages already present in BR, west coast MX and northern Chile are likely to be more strained due to the situation in Yantian emerging on the heels of the Suez Canal. Structural changes to several services announced in response to the all-time low service reliability. Protests in Columbia add more strain in a market already suffering from congestion and operational issues. Transship hubs, like Callao, Cartagena and Panama terminals, become more backlogged daily.

The situation of rates and capacity is still unpredictable, probably till the end of this year. Most transactions at the moment are suggested to be made carefully but quickly to get as best freight as possible. At the same time, space is also another problem giving all forwarding and booking agencies a hard time. Therefore, both customer and seller have to act wisely to secure enough capacity in order to run the business smoothly.

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