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Coronavirus is 'hugely disruptive' to global shipping supply chains

THE coronavirus outbreak is causing supply chain disruptions that are placing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of shipping business in jeopardy, in the wake of a massive decline in raw material imports due to the prolonged factory shutdown in China

10 March 2020 - 19:00

THE coronavirus outbreak is causing supply chain disruptions that are placing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of shipping business in jeopardy, in the wake of a massive decline in raw material imports due to the prolonged factory shutdown in China.

Tanker charter rates have plummeted 80 per cent as the coronavirus outbreak continues to slam the brakes on large economies, costing the shipping sector hundreds of millions in lost business, an industry official told Reuters news agency.



While some of the lost revenue cannot be recovered, a trade rebound could put the sector back into calmer waters later this year, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) secretary-general Guy Platten said.



'On the finished goods side of it you've got empty containers for example in China and you've got a shortage of containers in the [United] States because the manufactured goods are not getting out of China and being transported around the world. It's affecting all the supply chain throughout the shipping industry,' he said.



'There has been an absolute plunge in rates for various classes of ship ... We know that container lines are doing empty sailings. It would be hundreds of hundreds of millions of dollars [that] would be in jeopardy now,' he said.



Mr Platten was in Geneva to meet World Health Organization officials leading the international response to the outbreak that has infected 80,000 people and killed 2,700, mostly in China.



Separately, the German shipowners' association VDR told its annual news conference in Hamburg that terminal operations in Chinese ports were not going smoothly because truck drivers and port workers were missing.



Containerships' round trips through Chinese ports were being increasingly cancelled because of low load levels. Shipowners have asked staff to stay on board and wear face masks, VDR said.



Crews were not being swapped in China, and ships were not receiving and loading food during Chinese port stays, it added.


WORLD SHIPPING

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