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xChange: Empty Containers Piling Up in Shanghai

Empty containers are piling up in Shanghai, the world’s biggest port, according to the data from xChange, a Germany-based startup focusing on the repositioning of containers.

“The Container Availability Index shows relatively high values for 40 High Cube containers (0.58), 40 Dry Cargo containers (0.46) and 20 Dry Cargo containers (0.62),” xChange said commenting on the impact of coronavirus on container availability.

As explained, every number above 0.5 indicates a surplus of equipment.

“Looking back at the last two years, we can see container availability growing by 10% from 2019 and by even 17,7% from 2018. However, the container availability forecast shows similar values for 40 HCs (0.55), 40DCs (0.17) and 20DCS (0.55) Qingdao – indicating  small deficit of containers … maybe because companies are still trying to get their cargo out of China from a port, further away from Wuhan?” the company continued.

Events like virus outbreaks often have a huge impact on shipping and container logistics.

“Downsides from decreased vessel demand far outweigh positives from fleet inefficiencies, particularly in cases when an epidemic epicentre is China. For shipping lines, such events lower utilization rates and result in higher costs on routes as most companies are concerned that the potential inability for Chinese employees to work at mills, refineries, factories and terminals due to quarantine situation. The first sign of that is that the Chinese government already expanded the New Year holidays by 3 days,” xChange added.

The coronavirus outbreak, stemming from the inland city, Wuhan, Hubei province, has spread to some of China’s major port cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Tianjin. The virus outbreak coincides with the Chinese New Year in the last week of January when large population movements from China are expected.

As such, additional cases have been identified in a growing number of countries internationally such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore as well as one case in the United States.

Over 2,800 cases of coronavirus have been reported so far in China, and the death toll has risen to 80 people, the Shanghai List reports citing the country’s officials.