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Insight | Time: Mar 14 2022 3:10PM  Editor:Tina Kong
Does container marine market confront new supply chain crisis?
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The impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict

Some media pointed out that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has seriously hindered the Black Sea shipping and exerted an extensive impact on international transport and the global supply chain. It was estimated that hundreds of ships are still trapped at sea as a result of the conflict. The conflict exaggerated the operational pressure on the global shipping industry, with nearly 60,000 Russian and Ukrainian sailors trapped in ports and at sea due to the conflict. Insiders said that Ukrainian crew members are mainly concentrated in oil tankers and chemical ships, mainly serving European ship owners, and holding high-level positions such as captain and commissioner, with low substitutability, which also made it more difficult for ship owners to find replacements.


People in the industry pointed out that the crew from Ukraine and Russia accounted for as many as 17% of the world's 1.9 million crew members, and at present there are at least 60, 000 Russian and Ukrainian sailors trapped at sea or in ports, which was undoubtedly a great pressure on shipping market.


Some domestic market players in China also analyzed that the main crew of Maersk and Hapag Lloyd are mostly from Russia and Ukraine, while compulsory service and reserve personnel in Ukraine will be recruited and may not be able to enter the shipping market in short run. Will short manpower push up the sea freight? The positions of Ukrainian and Russian crew are difficult to be replaced. Some market players even thought that the impact was the same as COVID-19 's blow to the shipping industry, because most Ukrainian and Russian seafarers hold senior positions such as captain, commissioner, chief engineer, and so on, which will be a major concern for the crew. Some insiders stressed that the pandemic and the port congestion under US route, have strained the marine transport capacity. The crew shortage due to the war between Russia and Ukraine may become another out-of-control variable.


Some orders were canceled. The freight from Asia to Europe and US fell back. Will the container marine market 鈥渞esume normal鈥?

Some experts pointed out that the freight from Asia to Europe/US showed signals to reduce recently. The Russia-Ukraine conflict reduced supply of raw materials and dampened demand. The marine market may resume normal in advance.


According to some foreign shipping media reports, orders for low-value and high-cube container goods in Asia have been cancelled. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the shipping costs skyrocketed by 8-10 times, and it was no longer profitable to sell such goods. The horticulturist in London revealed that the company could not transfer the pressure of 30% price increase to Chinese goods and decided to cancel the orders.


European route

The freight from Asia to North Europe started decreasing, which sustained high during the Lunar New Year鈥檚 holiday but softened recently. According to the Freightos Baltic Index, the freight of 40GP (FEU) declined by 4.5% to $13585 last week. The spread of pandemic remained austere in Europe, and the daily new infections sustained high. Coupled with the geopolitical risk, future economic recovery may have gloomy outlook. Demand for daily necessities and medical materials sustained high.  The average utilization rate of seats from Shanghai port to basic ports of Europe was still near 100%, so did that on the Mediterranean route. 

North America route

The daily new infections of COVID-19 pandemic kept high in US. The inflation sustained high in US when prices of commodities rose recently. Future economic recovery may be lack of loose policies. The transportation demand sustained good, with steady supply and demand status. The average utilization rate of seats in W/C America Service and E/C America Service was still near 100% at Shanghai port.

The freight of some container from Asia to North America also headed south. According to the data from S&P Platts, the freight from North Asia to US East Coast was at $11,000/FEU and that of Northern Asia to the West Coast of the United States was at $9,300/FEU. Some forwarders still offered $15,000/FEU under West America route, but orders have decreased. The booking of some Chinese departure ship was cancelled and the shipping space has increased sharply.

However, based on the Freightos Baltic Index, the uptrend of freight from Asia to North America ontinued. For example, according to the FBX, the freight from Asia to the US West Coast, every 40ft container, rose by 4% on the month to $16,353 by last week, and that of US East Coast increased by 8% in Mar, namely the freight of every 40ft container at $18,432.


Did the congestion in West America improve? Too early to say.

The congestion of ports in West America showed signals to ease. The number of ships waiting to dock has halved from the January high and the handling of containers also sped up. However, insiders warned that it may be only a temporary phenomenon.


Alan McCorkle, Yusen Terminal Chief Executive, and others said that recently, container terminals have been transported faster and faster to inland strongholds, mainly due to factory shutdowns and slower imports in Asia during the Lunar New year. In addition, the significant reduction in the number of workers absent from the port infected with the pandemic also helped to accelerate logistics.


The congestions at ports in Southern California has been greatly improved. The number of ships waiting to dock fell from 109 in January to 48 on Mar 6, the lowest since Sep last year. Before the outbreak of pandemic, very few ships would wait to dock. At the same time, the volume of imports also declined in US. Inbound cargo from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach fell to an 18-month low in December 2021 and increased by only 1.8% in January 2022. Container waiting time also dropped from its all-time high.


However, future status may remain fierce as the shipping volume may continue increasing in the following months. According to the Sea-Intelligence, the average weekly import volume of American West will be 20% higher than that of the same period last year in the following 3 months. Alan Murphy, Chief Executive of Sea-Intelligence, said that by Apr, the number of ships congested at ports is likely to return to 100-105. 

[RISK DISCLAIMER] All opinions, news, analysis, prices or other information contained on this report is provided by analyst of Zhejiang Huarui Information Consulting Co., Ltd (CCFGroup) as general market commentary and does not constitute investment advice. CCFGroup will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to, any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information.
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