The Covid-19 has truly put the global supply chain in turbulence. After several months, when the global economy has reopened, the blue transport corridor is witnessing plenty of problems- bottlenecks, port congestion, hiked container prices, and shortage of container vessels, to name a few.
However, to the extreme surprise, empty containers have been troubling American exports lately. The congestion and the long queue of vessels at the major ports of America might be giving you a different picture. To clarify, the ships coming into ports are welcomed with imported goods. On the contrary, the exports of US goods including agricultural products are not able to break through international markets and demands. This has created an imbalance in container usage, exemplified rightly by MarketWatch Data. As per the data, 12.1 million boxes have left those ports empty through October 2021, jumping 46.2% from 2020 and 37.8% as compared to 2019.
A whopping 59% of containers left the US ports unattended with goods in the first 10 months of the year. Moreover, the compulsive demand for imported goods into the US has pushed up rates for freight being shipped across the Pacific from Asia to the US, making the route much more lucrative as compared to the US-Asia route. The better money-making opportunity pushes the ships and the shipowners to rush back to Asia with empty containers and return with the loaded vessels on the ‘diamond route’ surfing ‘Richie-rich’ waves of the Asia-US route.
Adding to it, export cancellations in the nick of time results in ship skipping ports which ultimately accelerated freight rates. Unmindful of the circumstances, meat export has been a prominent player in US exports but the congestion across the US major ports has drastically impacted it too. The US Meat Export Federation has only been able to find cost-prohibitive alternatives to the problem. A feasible solution to flawless meat export is still awaited.
Owing to these reasons, the US trade deficit saw an ever-high figure in 2021- US$705.2 billion in the first 10 months of the year, rising a 29.7% high as compared to the last year. Exporting hang-ups and business sanctions season the problem and magnify the US import-export margin.