February 18, 2020

MEMBER ALERT: Coronavirus Impacts Chinese Ports and Global Shipping Rates

The coronavirus in China is dramatically impacting the Chinese economy including China’s ports. Public reports from multiple sources indicate that Chinese ports of entry are running significantly behind in loading and unloading freight. Warehouses in and around ports as well as the port facilities themselves lack sufficient workers as people are either ill or fear becoming ill. Members shipping product to China should expect delays. Additionally, we are aware that several shipping companies are adding “congestion surcharges” per container for cargo bound for China and other Asian ports. Reefer containers appear to be subject to higher surcharges from some shippers than non-reefer containers. We strongly suggest checking contract terms and checking with your shipper before exporting product to China.

The China port slowdown is having a ripple effect across the wider Pacific Rim and beyond, with a disproportionate impact on the fresh produce sector as refrigerated containers are now in short supply do to the accumulation of containers in and around Chinese ports.

Western Growers is engaging with federal authorities as well as ocean carriers to gather more information and to press for relief for affected produce exporters.

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Please be on the lookout for further updates.