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Global Port Gridlock Threatens Economies Everywhere

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Global ports are growing more gridlocked as the pandemic era’s supply shocks intensify, threatening to spoil the holiday shopping season, erode corporate profits and drive up consumer prices.

Bloomberg’s Port Congestion Tracker shows a typhoon in Asia spawned another wild week for shipping in a year with multiple challenges — a vessel wedged in the Suez Canal, a dozen major storms, rolling Covid lockdowns disrupting key manufacturing hubs in China and Vietnam, a shortage of truckers and dockworkers, and a resurgence of consumer demand.

As of Friday, at least 107 container ships were waiting off Hong Kong and Shenzhen, the data show. The pileup worsened when the storm brushed past Hong Kong around midweek, shutting down its stock exchange and idling its ports. Globally, RBC Capital Markets reckons 77% of ports are experiencing abnormally long times to turnaround traffic.

The latest congestion won’t be isolated to Asia for long, as delayed ships loaded with merchandise soon start sailing for the U.S. and Europe. 

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