Container shortage affecting exporters in U.S. and Europe
The container shortage is not just affecting Asia ports but also inland exporters in the U.S. and several European countries, according to Seatrade Maritime News.
U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) chairman Michael Khouri emphasized the issue of shipping lines not supplying containers to agricultural exporters inland in the U.S.
“Some ocean carriers, not all, have stated that they will no longer reposition empty containers to the U.S. interior agricultural areas. Instead, they are expediting empties back to Asia,” he said.
“This abandonment of a significant U.S. export industry, the American agricultural industry, is shutting them out of global markets,” he told the virtual Global Maritime Conference.
The FMC is looking at possible actions it could take.
“We are looking into all potential responsive actions, including a review of whether such ocean carriers’ actions are in full compliance with the Shipping Act and more specifically the various “Prohibited Acts” sections of the Act,” said Chairman Khouri.
Research by FraunhoferCML and Container xChange shows that the shortage is being exacerbated by the lengthy periods empty boxes spend in depots, an average of 45 days.
In China and the U.S., the number of days empty containers spend in depots is considerably higher at 61 to 66 days.
Meanwhile, Hapag-Lloyd, a global leader in container shipping, has stopped accepting 40-foot reefer container booking for empty pick-up from depots in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and the Czech Republic until the end of the year.
In Hamburg, it has also stopped container booking for empty pick-up for 40-foot GP units until the end of the year.
“Our aim is to support all confirmed export bookings but it might come to booking cancellations in individual cases.”
“We do our utmost to avoid such cases and to serve all our customers as best as possible. We expect the situation to remain extremely tight over the next weeks,” Hapag-Lloyd said in a customer advisory.