According to recent data, ocean shipping is definitely not stopping on a dime, despite the Coronavirus’ massive impact on global demand. February data revealed that Chinese imports and exports were “in freefall”, compared to levels in 2019, because of the lockdown of Wuhan province. A follow-up dataset in early March revealed Chinese volumes rapidly rebounding to normal levels. It is important to note that this review was conducted before countries in North America and Europe began strict social distancing and quarantines. Carriers have announced a large number of blanked sailings in April and May in response to booking cancellations by European and U.S. buyers, and as a strategy to support freight rates.
That said, while volume coupled with service reductions are expected in the coming weeks, at the present time ocean shipping supply chains are functioning well, especially in Canada and the U.S.. Unlike air cargo, which has been affected by reduced carrier service worldwide, ocean carriers have been able to maintain adequate service levels. Also, North American ports and rail lines, that handle the majority of containerized ocean freight, continue to operate normally.
For more information, contact David Lychek, Manager – Ocean & Air Services.