NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
Africa-China trade slowed by container shortage due to Covid-19
Team Sea and Coast | 16/08/2021
Africa-China Trade Has Slowed down Immensely and observers blame this on an acute shortage of shipping containers, with more vessels prioritizing China-Europe and trans-Pacific trade routes before serving other markets including Africa. 
Gilbert Langat, chief executive officer of the Shippers Council of Eastern Africa, which advocates for cargo owners, said countries in Sub-Saharan Africa had been the most affected.
“With the reduced availability of containers because of the balance of trade favoring Europe, America and the Arab subcontinent, our freight rates have tripled because of high demand,” he said.
Importers from East Africa say their orders are subject to delays of weeks or months.
According to Langat, cargo to Africa was left short of containers by the disruption of the pandemic, then exploding demand from Asia-Europe and trans-Pacific trade routes as economies reopened, and the backlog caused by this year’s Suez Canal blockage. 
The border restrictions China imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 prompted Evergreen and Cosco, the major shipping lines taking cargo to East Africa, to stop sailing there, and businesses to look to alternative markets, Langat said. China-Africa trade has yet to fully recover.
The rise in rates has since spread to trade lanes across the globe, because they all lack containers and to some extent, carriers have also shifted capacity towards the trans-Pacific from less busy trade lanes.
For now, that has left some importers, especially in many African countries, further back in the queue. Studies have shown that African ports and African traders expect business to go back to normal at the end of 2022.
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