The Ongoing Container Shortage

In recent news posts we have reported on the container shortage which is affecting both importers and exporters here in Australia. The issue has been growing since the middle of last year. The problem isn’t that there aren’t enough shipping containers in the world, it’s matter of imbalance – the empty containers are in the wrong spots.

A surging demand to restock inventories after delays caused by Covid, along with a series of shipping disruptions, has left many thousands of containers stranded at sea on vessels anchored near jammed-up ports. Still more are stacking up at inland freight hubs in the U.S., Europe and Asia as companies struggle to cope with the cargo flows that at times have overwhelmed their operations.

Tight supply of shipping capacity and containers has seen freight rates soar to unprecedented levels amid the pandemic, adding to shippers’ financial burdens. This has prompted the governments of the US, China, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea to devise various solutions.

In Indonesia, the government has stepped in to support their shippers affected by capacity and equipment shortages in container shipping. The Ministry of Trade, together with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce has secured container slots from major shipping operators to transport goods from Indonesia to the US, as well as Australia, China, South Korea, Japan and other Asian ports.

Major providers of container services have promised to supply 3,500 to 3,800 containers to Indonesian exporters every month, to get their products out to the world. The ministry’s web portal, Inatrade, will also include a section to match shippers seeking containers with freight forwarders and container vessel operators to expedite transport arrangements for exporters.

The global shortage and impacts of Covid-19 have left the industry in uncertain waters. However, container availability is gradually increasing while congestion is reducing in certain bottlenecks. As the year progresses, we expect to see improvement on the horizon.

Maersk, the largest container shipping line and vessel operator in the world, has been significantly affected by the container shortage but believes that the current situation will soon ease. They expect bottlenecks to be relieved and buying patterns to normalise. With additional vessels and containers entering the market this year, there is optimism that the current container shortage is temporary and there will be significant improvement in 2022.

As licensed Customs Brokers and International Freight Forwarders, Colless Young handles your container shipping requirements economically and professionally. Based in Brisbane, we provide a complete range of import and export cargo services, both by air and sea, at all major Australian ports and airports. Call us for updates to vessel schedules and freight rates.