China’s Ningbo-Zhoushan container port, the world’s third-busiest, remained partially closed for a sixth day Monday, amid ongoing concern over whether the shutdown will disrupt trade from the region longer term.
The port hasn’t published any updates on its operations since Wednesday, when it halted all inbound and outbound container services at its Meishan terminal after one employee tested positive for Covid-19.
Consultant GardaWorld estimated the terminal accounted for about 25% of container cargo through the port, though Ningbo-Zhoushan had said it would redirect ships to other terminals and adjust operating hours at other docks.
An employee at the port’s media center said they had no new information to share. No new infections have been reported at the port since the initial case.
This may be good news, not because of the relatively harmless coronavirus, but because it may mean the port may reopen sooner rather than later. China is known for its drastic response to cases and will seal off entire cities over just a dozen cases without hesitation.
However there’s a significant difference with the West, which is that China’s more objective reporting means that it has hundreds of percent less cases and deaths with/from coronavirus, it also got back to relative normal by the end of 2020, whereas the West has continued to torture its citizens with rolling and even national lockdowns, and in the process is remorselessly zombifying its economies.
Meanwhile, shipping firm Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. warned clients of potential “port congestion” due to the partial closure in an advisory on Monday, while Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd. reminded customers to check terminals before arranging container gain-in at Ningbo in a Saturday notice. Maersk said Friday it had an AC6 vessel at the Meishan terminal, and that all its AC6 ships will omit Ningbo in August.
Since bringing the initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan under control last year, China has taken a zero-tolerance approach to Covid, taking strict measures to quash even single cases, especially at strategic locations like ports.
The latest port disruption followed the closure for about a month of Shenzhen’s Yantian port in late May after an outbreak among port staff.
It’s also stoking fears that ports around the world could face similar outbreaks soon given the spread of the highly-infectious delta variant, potentially triggering the sorts of curbs and disruptions that impacted global shipping last year.
It’s notable that just a month earlier a port and railway in South Africa was shut due to a major cyber attack. And earlier in March and then May there were issues with ships blocking the passage of the Suez canal.
Should this pattern continue, it’s possible the cumulative effect of these shutdowns and delays could soon cause significant disruptions to shipping logistics worldwide. [Sott]
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