Asia | US news digest. 9 June
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Asia | US news digest. 9 June

Reshoring of the U.S. supply chain is back in the talks in the White House. Yantian’s ripple effect surpasses the effect of the Suez incident

The U.S. brings back the discussion of reshoring American supply chain outlined in the recent Supply Chain Report. The question have been in the talks for months, and now Biden’s administration aims to develop initiatives that will enhance and expand the U.S. domestic capacity since multiple industries are facing shortages due to supply chain issues caused by a combination of high demand and pandemic-related disruptions. 

The unstable situation in Myanmar calls many garment manufacturers to consider leaving the country, which creates uncertainty for domestic freight forwarders. The protests, the possibility of the lockdown, and implemented curfew alongside army checkpoints have made transportation inefficient and costly (also partly due to a doubling of fuel prices). Almost 75% of the feeder services connecting Myanmar to mother-vessels have been canceled, and most of the carriers are not accepting bookings to the US and Canada. 

The contagion of the Port of Yantian imposes the threat of spreading around the world, according to the experts. Since the coronavirus outbreak in southern China, carriers have already announced significant disruptions of sailings and schedules canceling or transferring 29 calls since the end of May and confirming omissions running up to June 25. Container dwell times at Yantian rose to eight days the week of May 30. So far, the congestion has blocked more boxes and done more damage than the Suez Canal incident since its spreading further. During the 14 days of Yantian port congestion, the port has been unable to handle approximately 357,000 TEU, while Suez Canal blockage was impacting a daily flow of 55,000 TEU for six days, which translates to a total of 330,000 TEU. Other alternative ports of China such as Nansha, Shekou, and Hong Kong do not have the facilities to handle all the extra box flow. Each of the ports also saw major week-on-week drops in incoming boxes with an average change between Week 21 and Week 22 of -4.1% at Yantian, -16.7% at Shekou, and -10% at Nansha. However, the Guangzhou Port Company confirmed on 7 June that Nansha Port Area is operating normally without Covid-19 cases. It can be a future substitute for Yantian – when phase 4 of the Nansha port development is completed this year, the port's annual throughput could exceed 18 million TEU.

Meanwhile, the U.S. container import volumes continue to set records and add to pressures on ports and other logistics infrastructure to meet the boom in demand, with supply chain disruptions, port congestion, and rising shipping costs set to continue throughout 2021. The first half of 2021 is forecast at 12.8 million TEU, up 35.3% over the same period in 2020. However, the pressure on the supply chains and the necessity to adjust quickly do not divert the industry’s focus from the green initiatives. They are gradually becoming a part of nowadays agenda. The Port of Long Beach and the Utah Inland Port Authority have signed a deal to develop cleaner, more cost-effective, and innovative strategies aimed at moving goods quickly, safely, and efficiently across the US. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma and the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) urgently call for active government support. They believe that a sustainable future is in the hands of both – the State and the industry. They expect the government to cut emissions and noise pollution from container vessels. The Port of Los Angeles has teamed up with partners to launch five new hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and the opening of two hydrogen fuelling stations.

MSC is on its way to become the largest carrier as its fleet capacity edges above 4m TEU, overtaking 2M partner Maersk. It has expanded by 4% so far this year. Moreover, the current market leader has a virtually empty orderbook as it commits its efforts to research and development into alternative fuels. 

HMM will take measures to address a soaring demand in the upcoming peak season. It will double its extra loader transpacific services from next month. Taiwan-based Wan Hai Lines is expanding its network by launching a new weekly service between Asia and the east coast of the US. 

As for X-Pearl, its owner believes that further oil pollution is not expected. State prosecutors in Sri Lanka are accusing X-Press Feeders and its parent, Sea Consortium, of a cover-up, claiming that they deleted key emails. Industry experts have proposed their theories on how the catastrophe could have been avoided.

The New Silk Road acquired another direct connection between Shanxi in China and Paris in France. The very first train departed on 2 June, carrying 50 40-foot containers. It will travel through the Erenhot border-crossing and enter Europe after passing through Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Germany.

Asian ports refuse entry to Evergreen ship, hit by the COVID-19, with dead captain onboard. The ship has been diverted to call Italy first in order to repatriate the captain, but the situation is yet to be resolved. 

Asia | US news digest. 9 June