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Supply and demand reversal! Shipping containers are “waiting for cargo to arrive”, and a large number of empty containers are piled up at the port!

In the past two years, the shipping market has undergone a transformation from “a container is hard to find” and “a cabin is hard to find” to “empty c…

In the past two years, the shipping market has undergone a transformation from “a container is hard to find” and “a cabin is hard to find” to “empty containers are piled at the port”.

In 2020, affected by factors such as growth in overseas demand and poor logistics, international shipping prices have soared. However, since this year, international shipping prices have fluctuated from highs and have gradually entered a reasonable range.

Shipping containers “waiting for cargo to arrive”

This year, as Christmas, the world’s largest consumer season, is approaching, the shipping industry is currently facing the problem of “hard to find goods”.

Affected by changes in the external environment, the export volume of anti-epidemic materials represented by textiles, medicines, and medical equipment and the “stay-at-home economy” products represented by furniture, home appliances, electronic products, and entertainment facilities has declined since 2022. Since July, The growth trend of container export value and export container volume has even changed in the opposite direction.

From the perspective of European and American inventories, in just over two years, the world’s largest purchasers, retailers and manufacturers have experienced a process in which goods have gone from being in short supply, to global rush for goods, to goods on the road, to high inventories.

“High inventory and difficult to sell goods” has become a common problem faced by European and American retail companies. This change is inhibiting the import motivation of buyers, retailers and manufacturers.

In addition, since 2022, the shrinking production capacity in the United States, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia has recovered rapidly. Coupled with the impact of “decoupling” of some industries, the proportion of China’s export commodities has begun to decline, which has also indirectly affected my country’s container export trade demand. growth of.

Industry insiders pointed out that after entering the second half of this year, there was a lull in orders, and this year’s Christmas orders were nearly 30% less than in previous years.

A large number of empty containers pile up at Chinese ports

Recently, the official website of the China Ports and Ports Association released a port production and operation monitoring and analysis report stating that in November, the throughput of foreign trade heavy containers (usually referred to as loaded boxes) decreased by 9.7% year-on-year, while foreign trade empty containers increased by 23.73% year-on-year.

In terms of containers, in November, the container throughput of the eight major coastal container hub ports increased by 5.3% year-on-year. Among them, foreign trade increased by 3.3% year-on-year, and the increase in foreign trade mainly came from the return of empty containers.

Recently, the person in charge of a logistics company in Shenzhen that provides container transportation and storage services said, “Business is not good, 20% less (than last year).” The company’s container yard is also very tight, and some empty boxes “have been left there for a long time.” “.

Near the gate of Yantian Port Terminal, a large number of containers are piled up in the port area. As an international container ocean trunk transport hub port in South China, Yantian Port is one of the container terminals with the largest single throughput in the world. It mainly serves export routes to Europe and the United States, with nearly a hundred liner routes arriving in Europe, the United States and other regions every week.

The relevant person in charge said that in the past, after the trailer driver returned the heavy containers at the terminal, he would pick up the empty containers to the next factory to pick up the goods. Nowadays, after the trailers have returned the heavy containers, most of them no longer pick up the containers because there is no “next order” of goods to haul.

A truck driver engaged in container transportation at Yantian Port said that he has recently seen many “empty” trucks parked on the roadside near the Yantian Port container terminal. “Some of the tires are flat and there are no orders. Some drivers have returned to their hometowns.”

He also said that many parking lots are currently full of cars and there are no spaces, and the terminals are also cleaning up illegal parking situations, making the situation of drivers even more difficult.

A few days ago, Yantian International Container Terminal Co., Ltd. stated on its official WeChat account that the company’s container storage volume has reached a new high since the epidemic in March 2020, and will soon break through the historical high in the 29 years since the port opened. However, in order to cope with the return of empty containers, and We are making plans to prepare for the recovery of goods and launching a yard capacity optimization plan.

Industrial chain companies need to actively respond

Affected by factors such as the epidemic and weak market demand growth, freight rates on many routes have weakened again and are still unable to recover for the time being. In the context of continued decline in shipping prices, relevant companies in the industry chain also need to actively respond.

“For shipping companies, the previously hot shipping market may have prompted them to purchase new ships at high prices to increase shipping capacity. The current continued decline in shipping prices may increase their operational pressure. In this regard, shipping companies need to improve their comprehensive service capabilities as soon as possible and urgently Seize new opportunities emerging under trade frameworks such as RCEP, and at the same time be more cautious about ship investments.”

Ming Ming, chief economist of CITIC Securities, said that for freight forwarders, as freight rates fall, they may face an inversion of freight rates, that is, long-term contract prices are higher than spot prices.

In this regard, freight forwarding companies need to strengthen cost management, actively try to renegotiate long-term contract prices with shipping companies, improve customer service capabilities, and win with service.

In addition, foreign trade companies must also actively understand and make full use of policies to stabilize foreign trade, such as expanding overseas markets through RCEP, cross-border e-commerce models and other channels to win new orders;

On the other hand, based on their own conditions and changes in overseas demand, they should reasonably control raw material costs and inventory levels to improve the company’s ability to resist the risk of an unexpected fall in external demand.

Some people in the industry also suggest that as demand in the traditional European and American markets decreases, foreign trade companies can actively explore the markets of countries along the “Belt and Road” in the future, especially the markets of ASEAN countries.

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Author: clsrich