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Beijing moves to end container shortages

China’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) urged the China Ports and Harbours Association (CPHA) and China Shipowners’ Association (CSA) to help find a solution to the ongoing container shortages, to keep freight rates at a reasonable level.

In a video conference on 8 February with the Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Foreign Trade, the MOT’s Water Transport Bureau initiated the video conference to find solutions from liner operators and the trade associations that will facilitate foreign trade and smooth the passage of freight.

During the meeting, officials said that since June 2020, China had achieved some success in controlling Covid-19 and as outbound trade has stabilised, demand for container shipments has rebounded rapidly. They added an improvement in capacity and container supply, as well as co-operation with overseas ports and agencies is necessary.

Disparity between shipping capacity and container supply is still obvious

Government officers said, “Various liner operators have optimised the allocation of ships to their service routes, and we will continue to facilitate outbound trade by ensuring that transportation is smooth. However, due to congestion in overseas ports, poor collection and distribution systems, and difficulties in returning empty containers, the disparity between shipping capacity and container supply is still obvious.”

Slow return of empty containers from North America to Asia led to rate spike and insufficient boxes

The slow return of empty containers from North America to Asia precipitated the rate spike as it resulted in insufficient boxes for other trade lanes. The governments of the US, Taiwan and South Korea have intervened to alleviate this impact on shippers.

All parties to co-operate to improve the efficiency of container collection and distribution officials asked

The officials added, “We hope that all parties will co-operate to improve the efficiency of container collection and distribution. Long-term transportation contracts should also be offered to shippers to lock in freight rates.”

The CPHA and CSA proposed working with liner and port operators to develop initiatives to smooth global logistics services. The authorities emphasised the need for all liner and port operators to strengthen co-operation with shippers to form mutually beneficial relationships.
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