TPEB and US Port Situation

Posted on Jan 20


With 1.626 million TEU December saw the third-highest import volume from Asia, only trailing October and August, and a volume increase of almost 30% against December 2019.

The total import volume from Asia increased 4.1% from 2019 to 16.6 million TEU.

December’s volume again was heavily driven by unprecedented volumes of e-commerce products as well as shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies that are expected to further impact the volumes in January and February and possibly even into the second quarter of 2021.

The large import volumes continued to feed the congestion in the arrival ports at the coasts, especially the port complexes of Los Angeles/Long Beach and New York/New Jersey, and the situation has now started to worsen in inland intermodal hubs where intermodal volumes rose 2.38 percent in December over November (usually December volumes lag November volumes).

After declining in the first half of last year imports from Asia Due to the impact of COVID-19 on production levels in Asia and retail sales drops in the US the situation dramatically changed in June when imports restarted and eventually rose to near-record levels for the second half of the year, resulting in dramatic levels of space and equipment shortages at Asian origins and severe congestion in US ports caused by infrastructure issues here.

December saw 37% of containers being rolled in the Port of Shanghai were rolled, with the roll-over number in other major trans-shipment ports being even higher (Port Klang at 55% and Singapore at 42% percent).

LALB again faced a situation where vessels were so backed up that 28 to 30 vessels had to anchor outside the ports for up to 7 days waiting for berthing space to become available.
These delays increased the time empty containers could be returned to Asia for re-loading, further complicating the empty container situation in Asia, and caused rotation issues that further delayed shipments scheduled to ship in December that now will move in January, probably creating similar or even higher volumes this month, and backlogs in the Asian ports will most likely also impact February’s volumes which traditionally should be lower due to the Chinese New Year’s slow season.

We expect the current mix of high production volumes, equipment shortages, extremely high freight rates caused by limited space, and congestion in US coastal ports and inland points to continue in the first quarter of 2021.

Please contact your V. Alexander Sales and Customer Service Teams to discuss your individual freight needs and find possible solutions for your supply chain.