Market Update: Freight Congestion in Southern China

Delays, congestion and container availability problems are increasing at ports and terminals in southern China, including Yantian, Shekou and Nansha, as operations have slowed in an effort to contain outbreaks of COVID-19.

Container dwell times at Yantian rose to eight days the week of May 30, with median dwell times of 18 to 21 days by June 7. Container availability dropped at the three ports, skipping the ports of call, and resulting in empty boxes not being dropped off at ports.

Below are some key updates relating to ports in southern China —

Port Updates

  • Port of Yantian: Only accepting ETA 3 days with advanced appointment, not accepting any truck operators who have been to Nansha/Guangzhou area. Mandatory 14 day quarantine required.
  • Port of Shekou: Only accepting ETA 3 days with advanced appointment. Truck operators require negative COVID-19 test.
  • Da Chan Bay: Only accepting ETA 7 days with license plate from Shenzen area. Trucker operators require negative COVID-19 test.
  • Port of Nansha: Only accepting ETA 7 days, with certain areas still closed. Those from high risk areas (such as Guangzhou or Shenzhen) require a mandatory 14-day quarantine and negative COVID-19 test.
  • Bounded warehouse: Truck operators require negative COVID-19 test and not have visited any high risk areas.

In this scenario, shippers can expect goods to be delayed to well into the end of June, if not July.

Strain on Global Supply Chains

These challenges in southern China are the latest in a saga of global container shipping issues that have plagued shippers, forwarders and carriers for more than a year — from port congestion, to equipment shortages, to blank sailing, to skyrocketing freight rates.

Many importers have pivoted to airfreight given ongoing capacity and timeliness issues in ocean freight, although air cargo space is also limited.

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