Corona crisis: massive delivery bottlenecks for goods from China

Companies in Europe that are dependent on supplies from China are worried about bottlenecks and exploding prices in the logistics chain. Shipments are currently arriving with a delay because ports are overcrowded and container ships are operating at full capacity. The cost of transporting goods is constantly increasing. Currently, prices in excess of $ 5,000 are being charged for a 40 foot ocean freight container that can hold 25 euro pallets of freight.

The first shipping companies are stopping bookings as many container ships are full by the end of December. The market situation for imports from Asia continues to deteriorate dramatically, writes a German logistics company to its customers. Shipping companies would levy “expensive premium surcharges”. In some places sea containers are missing, charter ships cannot be booked because all capacities are sold out. “Everything that can swim is on the water,” says a manager of a German logistics group.

It doesn’t look much better for rail transport from the Far East. Bringing a standard container to Germany by train from Wuhan, China, currently costs $ 8,350 for some providers. Freight wagons are a scarce commodity, and the flow of goods is one-sided because less is transported from Europe to China than the other way around, says Frank Huster, General Manager of the Federal Association of Forwarding and Logistics.

In many cases, truck transport is considered uneconomical and is therefore rarely seen as an alternative. For the route from Wuhan to Germany, 28,880 euros are currently being requested from a provider – for just 20 tons of cargo. The journey takes around 15 days, plus a waiting period of seven to ten days at the border between China and Kazakhstan.

“99 percent of protective clothing comes from Asia”

Aviation cannot provide relief either. Because business is booming there too; there are airlines that charge up to eight euros per kilo of freight. A few years ago, 1.50 euros was a common price; At the beginning of the corona crisis, much higher prices of up to $ 16 per kilogram were also charged.

Due to the slump in passenger flights, the cargo capacities of these machines are missing – some airlines are therefore sending passenger machines into the air as freighters. Industry experts assume that the prices for air freight will continue to rise towards the end of the year, because the ship capacities are exhausted and companies therefore increasingly have to switch to airplanes in order to still be able to bring goods to Europe.

The tense situation could also affect the delivery of protective equipment again, which is still urgently needed in Europe to combat the coronavirus pandemic. “99 percent of protective clothing comes from Asia,” says Michael Koch, project manager at the Bavarian medical wholesaler Medika. The Chinese New Year celebrations on February 12, 2021 mean “six weeks without production and eight to ten weeks without any new goods from China. We will notice that. ”There would be a shortage; prices could also continue to rise. “We’ll see the problem in April or May 2021,” says Koch. “If things get bad, the goods are missing completely.”

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