Chinese port closure increases global shipping bottleneck

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When one of China's busiest ports announced it wouldn't accept new export containers in late May because of a Covid-19 outbreak, it was supposed to be up and running again in a few days. But as the partial shutdown drags on, it is worsening trade-route bottlenecks and lifting record freight prices even higher.

1. Show ship getting stuck in Suez canal, animation of Suez shipping backlog
2. Line of cargo ships stopping dead, container on ship en route
3. Ship sailing from Shanghai to Rotterdam, route shown on globe map, half-empty empty warehouse
4. Christmas shoppers in Europe disappointed by empty shelves, expensive prices
5. EU ship captain in Yantian port asks for ship to be loaded, but port authorities point to Covid, says no
6. Camera zooms out to show massive ship bottleneck around Yantian port

VOICEOVER (in English):
Bloomberg reports that the shipping backlog created when a ship got stuck sideways in the Suez canal for a week in March, is nothing compared to the backlog the global shipping industry is currently facing.

The bottleneck is currently so severe that it costs companies more than 11,000 dollars to ship a 12-meter container from Rotterdam to Shanghai. That's almost seven times more than it would have cost a year ago.

On top of that, it's looking like retailers won't be able to restock their warehouses for the crucial Christmas season in the U.S. and Europe, which means there might not be much to buy for Christmas, and things might cost a lot more.

The biggest problem is that many ports had to cut back on container-handling functions due to COVID outbreaks.

The worst case is currently in Yantian Port, which is one of China's busiest ports.

Yantian Port now says it will be back to normal by the end of June. But even if that pans out, it may take months for the cargo backlog in southern China to clear, while the fallout ripples to ports worldwide.

SOURCES: Bloomberg, The Guardian, NY Times