Coronavirus Logistics Update 19 (COVID-19)
In our nineteenth update on the effects of coronavirus we are once again covering the impact on the logistics and supply chain sector in the UK and around the world. England has now moved into full post Covid recover. Most shops have now re-open and there are plans in the next couple of weeks to allow cafes and bars to reopening. The UK government is rumoured to be preparing to drop the social distance from 2m to 1m with the next couple of days. Both Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also decreasing their lock down restrictions. This does not mean the pandemic is over however, with other countries are still having major problems and reporting increasing cases. The USA has had large increase in cases in the “Sunshine States” as lock down was reduced, and other countries keep having localised groups of cases. This is showing it still possible for there to be another full second wave of infections in any country.
Ocean container freight demands are impacting pricing again on trade routes. 40ft Container rates from China to the West Coast USA ports have reach rates not seen for over 2 years, with East Coast rates following a similar pattern. However Europe is a different story with demand and supply more matched and rates on some routes have begun to drop slightly. This may be just a short term price movement or an indication of a longer down turn in rates as demand softens, but it is to early to say. Seafreight into India is still facing major issues with the main lock down being extended until the end of June. Non essential cargo which is being devanned in some port CFS warehouse are incurring long delays due to a shortage of staff, lack of vehicle operators and congestion. This is resulting in additional charges for LCL operators which is being passed onto consignees. There is little that can be done to avoid these delays at the moment other than avoid shipping non-essential goods into ports such as Mumbia for the moment. The issue will eventually be resolved as the Covid crisis here is managed.
Airfreight rates have gone lower and demand for space has dropped this week mainly due to declines in PPE equipment shipments. However despite this anybody thinking of being able to get a “normal” airfreight rate out of China to either Europe or North America is going to be disappointed. Rates are still well above what was being paid this in June 2019. Several companies which analyse airfreight movements have report that overall capacity has actually dropped as some airlines have pulled freighters from certain routes as there is less PPE equipment to be moved. If there is a second wave of infections or the the existing ones worsen then it may result in another sudden freight rate increase and no airfreight capacity.
Companies are encouraged to rethink their supply chains to allow for disruption in logistics due to sudden demands for PPE equipment if new waves of Coronavirus break out. Importers and exporters should be now getting their logistics or freight forwarders to offer full analyse of different routes which will enable the to keep goods moving even if PPE shipments take all capacity of a particular route so they can avoid having to attempt to move urgent shipments using costly ways or having to shut down as they have no parts to use or stock to sell. The post Covid-19 supply chain world will be different.