The year 2021 was incomparable in the shipping and logistics industry, with space and equipment shortages causing disruptions and bottlenecks in the supply chain globally. Unfortunately, signs are that the first quarter of 2022 is not going to be any different.
Major transshipment hubs remain severely congested, and we have been experiencing delays at transshipping ports like Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas, Las Palmas, and Sines.
Far East rates have stabilised to some point, however, the market remains optimistic as the demand for container shipping tends to rise in the weeks before the Chinese New Year, and there is uncertainty about what impact the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing from February 4th – 20th will have.
Carriers are forecasting freight rate increases on historical stable Europe and North American trades, this while both regions are dealing with the ongoing shortage of truckers and port congestion.
Some ocean carriers are struggling to maintain direct calls to the southern UK container hubs and advised that they were unable to provide haulage during January.
In addition to the trucker shortage, the USA has also experienced congestion on the inland rail service causing delays in collections and deliveries due to rail car, chassis and equipment shortages.
Berthing delays, congestion and high traffic volumes continue in all major terminals at our South African ports, further impacting an already constrained vessel schedule. As a result, CMA-CGM announced that they are not accepting any export bookings until the end of January to certain Far – and Middle East destinations. This decision was made in an attempt to evacuate containers causing congestion and limited space on feeder vessels. However, the carrier advised that the period could be extended should the situation not improve.
The ongoing shipping bottlenecks have exposed one of the most profound questions facing the global economy as it emerges from the pandemic: whether the worldwide traffic jam remains gridlocked or begins to flow again in 2022.
If the bottlenecks persist, freight costs will remain high, space for cargo on ships will be limited, and importers and exporters will have to endure chronic delays. That could, in turn, fuel inflation, prompt supply chain upheavals and accelerate the consolidation of shipping networks, fundamentally changing world trade.
Looking ahead, companies should keep these issues top of mind when preparing their supply chain planning for 2022.