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Felixstowe, Liverpool strikes hit Europe’s overstressed supply chain

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LONDON : Europe’s overstretched supply chains are experiencing a double whammy of disruptions as transport unions in Felixstowe and now in Liverpool prepare for labour strikes, according to the analysis published by Container xChange.

“The strikes will lead to port closures stretching up to more than a week. Followed by this will be the Golden week in China (1-7 October when the factories are shut in China) which will further lead to work stoppages in Chinese ports.

“Not to forget, the typhoon Muifa that will lead to port closures just ahead of the Golden Week in China where shippers prepare for pre-Golden Week sailings.

“Christian Roeloffs, Co-Founder and CEO, Container xChange, says: “These disruptions will delay the peak season cargo coming from China to Europe. The cargo ships will be diverted to other ports in Europe and the U.K., adding pressure to the congestion in the port of Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Rotterdam, and major port hubs where our proprietary data shows the CAx is already at a very high level.”

The port of Bremerhaven has the highest CAx so far this year at 0.87 as of week 37.    Clearly, the diversions are evident ahead of the strikes, the update added.

At the port of Hamburg, the CAx of 0.87 is the highest since 2020 (2021 was 0.82 and 2020 was 0.37 at week 37). The CAx at the port of Rotterdam is again at 0.83, the highest in three years.

The CAx levels have been rising since week 21 (last week of May) across these ports in Europe as the container build-up at these ports, congestion increases and now the problem of empty containers, rivers drying up and port closure fear looms upon the traders and shippers.

Another impact will be the delay in expatriating empty containers from Europe to China because of the closures and capacity issues.

“These disruptions will only add to the difficulties in the Asia-Europe cargo movement at a time when the trade lane is traditionally extremely busy to fulfil holiday season orders,” says a customer of Container xChange.

Roeloffs concluded: “Not just for the import of cargo for the coming peak season, I think right now the impact will be majorly on the hindrances of exporting empties out of Europe. Overstressed depots full of empty containers will face further inefficiencies because of the strikes as the operations will be halted.”

Maersk, in their market update, shared cargo diversions to ports including Antwerp and Le Havre. “We see the CAx levels at 0.89 at the port of Le Havre, again the highest so far this year.”

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