Focus topics

China’s ports suffer under lockdowns

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  • The lockdowns strongly hit China’s port operations. Container throughput at Shanghai port declined by 17% in April 2022 (yoy), cargo tonnage even fell by 31%. Also other ports, such as Guangzhou, feel the impact of lockdowns, with a throughput minus of 10%.​
  • This causes delays in loading and discharging ships in Shanghai, but it is not yet as bad as expected. The average time at anchorage was at 0.8 days in early March and then increased to 3 days in second half of April (overall better than in previous lockdowns). Anchorage time was at 4.6 days for import containers. The number of vessels waiting at Chinese ports increased by 195% to 506 since February (27.7% of global total).​
  • The Shanghai port authority took steps in late April to improve ship handling and decreased time at anchorage to 0.9 in early May. Shanghai port had previously assigned 25.000 employees for “closed-loop” operations.​
  • The main bottleneck is road transport from and to the port and warehousing, due to long waiting time to pick up freight from the port and the time needed to pass dozens of checkpoints along the route to the final destination. Especially entering other cities and provinces has become difficult. Road transport is, to a certain degree, replaced by transport via inland ports and rail, but the capacity to do so is limited.​
  • South-East Asian countries are benefiting from China’s ongoing lockdowns. Vietnam’s exports rose by 25% in April (yoy). China’s export growth plummeted from 14.7% to 3.9% in April. Nearly half of exporters around Qingdao port saw a decline in exports in Q1.​
  • Due to the continued Zero-Covid policy, the supply chain will face ongoing disruption, as production by suppliers, inland logistics and trade (sea, air, rail) remain affected.​

Sinolytics is a European consulting and analysis company specializing in China. It advises European companies on their strategic orientation and concrete business activities in the People’s Republic.


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