The closure of a terminal at the world’s third-busiest container port is only the latest sign that turmoil in ocean shipping could run into next year, posing a threat to global economic growth as chronic delays and soaring transport costs may leave demand unmet and push up consumer prices. A coronavirus outbreak led to a partial shutdown at Ningbo-Zhoushan port last week and the resulting suspension of inbound and outbound container ships reduced the port’s capacity by a fifth.
It follows another Chinese outbreak in May, which led to a three-week long closure of the Yantian terminal in Shenzhen and created knock-on effects in international shipping. A relentless surge in shipping prices and persistent bottlenecks at ports around the world have added to the barrage of problems affecting supply chains. These include the semiconductor crunch and the rising price of raw materials, to truck driver shortages as retailers stock up ahead of the peak shopping season.