Shanghai port is still clearing a backlog of ships, as it had to be closed for four days when Typhoon In-fa hit on 26 July.
IHS Markit’s tracking data shows that as of 5 August, there are 120 container ships in Shanghai, some of them remaining in the world’s busiest container port since 22 July.
Typhoon In-fa brought record amounts of rainfall to China in July 2021, becoming the second-wettest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the country. The typhoon was also the first to hit Shanghai since Typhoon Mitag in October 2019. Port operations in Shanghai and Ningbo were suspended and ships at anchorage were directed to take shelter outside of the typhoon’s path. All container ship docks were closed in Shanghai Port’s Yangshan Deepwater Port, with 150 ships having to be evacuated.
A release from Shanghai International Port Group said that as soon as Typhoon In-fa was forecast to hit the city, it held meetings on 23 July to make contingency plans. Checks were carried out on ships anchored in the port to ensure that the vessels were secure and the container lashings were in place.
There are also concerns of another logjam as the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus has now hit half of China's 32 provinces, causing lockdowns in the affected areas. This is despite China having vaccinated at least half of its population.
On 3 August, China reported 71 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the highest since January, with infections growing for five consecutive days since 30 July.
Drewry’s senior manager, Simon Heaney told Container News that if China re-imposes strict regional lockdowns there would be a significant reduction in manufacturing output.
“One positive from this scenario is that any enforced slowdown in demand will provide a window of opportunity for the supply chain to fix itself, assuming the freight transportation network is spared from any working restrictions,” he noted.
Jason Chiang, director of Royal HaskoningDHV unit Ocean Shipping Consultants, told Container News that if lockdowns are implemented in China, selected ports could be affected.
He added, “The shipping lines would likely skip sailings to meet their schedules, depending on the severity of the situation.”