Shanghai port congestion: consequences and effects

The cases

The recent Shanghai port blockade due to the China’s Covid lockdown has caused unprecedented disruption to maritime transport.

Shanghai's port is the largest seaport globally, so maritime traffic keep facing a high degree of uncertainty, despite some signs of recovery. The average ship waiting time in the port decreased from 66 hours at the end of April to 34 hours. In particular, waiting time for container ships are longer: from 69 hours at the end of April to 36 hours (13 hours more than in 2021). There is a slight progress, but still far from the standards of recent years.

Maersk, one of the world largest container shipping companies, confirms that the situation continues to be fluid: “the Shanghai port remains operational from vessel operations, yard handling and gate-in-and-out working with only slight interruptions”. 

But, more than 700 ships are waiting outside the port: loading and unloading operations require a very long time causing traffic and delays. In addition to the disruption in logistics activities, there is also the factories lockdown, and the lack of road hauliers and port operators. The Chinese supply chain is under pressure, with serious knock-on effects around the world destabilizing the global supply chains. Disruptions in the global logistics system with delays in supplies and a lack of raw materials involves all economic sectors. 

Confindustria Udine also highlights how regional companies are managing through serious disruptions to their supply chains, from electronics to construction and hydraulics, caused - in addition to the Russia-Ukraine conflict - in particular by the Shanghai lockdown which stopped the largest commercial hub in the world, resulting in dramatically increased container costs. According to the report of the Srm study center, after the Shanghai lockdown, the maritime traffic will return in the Mediterranean through a reshoring process to guarantee the supply of essential goods, bringing part of production back to Europe and the United States.