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Container prices around the world photo

Container prices around the world

Shipping containers are the standard unit for transportation of goods around the world. With the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, established international supply chains have been altered and in some cases disrupted. Currently, the wait times to procure a shipping container can stretch for 2-3 weeks. The shortage of shipping containers in export-heavy countries such as China have caused the container prices to rise sharply. In turn, the rising container prices and congestions in major ports have led to higher prices for consumer goods. The main reasons for rising container prices are:


Disruption of global trade patterns due to pandemic. The regulations and policies introduced to fight the spread of the pandemic have altered the usual flow of goods and led to unpredictable changes in consumer goods demands and buying behaviour.


Shipping vessel shortage. During the early stage of development of the pandemic the slowing down of global trade has prompted vessel owners to begin vessel refurbishment projects. Combined with restrictions imposed to halt the spread of the pandemic the number of operational vessels has dropped.


Container shortage. A sudden disruption of the normal flow of goods between world economies and rapid recovery of the demand in the following months has led to the shortage of containers.


Congested ports. The spread of the pandemic has led to reduction of the available workforce at sea ports. The reduced number of supportive personnel has caused vessel delays and slow service.

Increased container prices have caused some transportation companies to consider shipment of empty containers back to locations where containers are most needed rather than waiting for goods for a backhaul leg of the transportation.

The logistics experts are still unsure of the future development trajectory of the container shortage problem. However, a gradual reduction in port congestion, return of sea port support workforce and increase in availability of containers, in the eyes of the industry, is a sign of improvements on the horizon.


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