Asia’s shortage of empty containers may worsen Rotterdam congestion
Empty container boxes crucial for Asia’s exporters are getting stuck in the port of Rotterdam as a growing backlog of undelivered goods at Europe’s export hub forces ocean carriers to prioritize shipments of filled boxes, Bloomberg reports.
The Dutch port has faced an onslaught of both goods and empty boxes offloaded from other European maritime operations, shipping experts said. This has coincided with carriers reducing the number of vessel trips from the continent to China after Shanghai authorities locked down the city in March, they said.
Yard density at the Rotterdam port has been extremely high over the last few months due to unreliable ocean-going ship schedules and longer dwell times for import containers, the port said on Monday. The situation has led terminals in some instances to divert empty containers to depots to bring down congestion at yards, it said.
“Terminals are allowing shipping carriers only a limited capacity for empty boxes and are focusing on transporting loaded containers,” Kuehne + Nagel International AG, one of Europe’s largest freight forwarders, said in an e-mailed reply to questions. “Containers are piling up at the terminals, and more and more containers cannot be returned on departures, including those to Asia.”
Although authorities in Shanghai lifted restrictions this month, shortages of vessels and delays at European ports are forcing export goods to compete with empty boxes for space on ships headed to China, threatening to send a further wave of disruption to Asia, logistics firms said.
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