The congestion at West Coast ports may cause a shortage of containers in Asia, due to the difficulties to reposition them back from the U.S.

Content sourced through JOC

A spokesman for Hanjin Shipping said the carrier was facing container equipment shortages in Asia due to the West Coast gridlock.

“This is mainly due to the congestion taking place on the U.S. West Coast. The congestion is causing frequent port skips and delays of services, which lead to irregular deliveries of container equipment to Asia,” she said, adding that it was hard to tell whether the shortage would continue until Chinese New Year in February, “but it seems less likely that it will be solved” soon. Other carriers have not seen the issue crop up, at least not yet. OOCL director of trades Stephen Ng said he was not aware of any shortages of containers. “However, the situation is very fluid, especially with the slowdown in the U.S. West Coast ports,” he said. He added it was “a bit too” early to forecast whether equipment would be in short supply
in the run up to Chinese New Year.

Part of the reason for concern is railroads restrictions placed on the loading of westbound empty containers at Midwest rail ramps.

The potential for a shortage of empties (ocean containers) in Asia could bring capacity shortages & emerge with little warning, stranding shippers’ cargo and leaving them scrambling for limited equipment or space on ships. Even though the industry is entering its traditional slack season in December and January, eastbound trans-Pacific volumes have been strong and a surge could develop in the run-up to Chinese New Year when factories throughout the country shut for ten days or more.

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