The cost of shipping goods from China to Europe has more than quadrupled in the past eight weeks, hitting record highs as a shortage of empty containers stemming from the pandemic disrupts global trade, reported the Financial Times.
The cost of shipping a 40-foot container from Asia to northern Europe has increased from about $2,000 in November to more than $9,000, according to shippers and importers.
Lars Jensen at consultancy SeaIntelligence said, “It’s a bottleneck problem . . . These rates are being driven by customers fighting over a limited resource — containers.”
Thousands of empty containers were left stranded in Europe and the US in the first half of 2020 when shipping lines cancelled hundreds of trips as coronavirus lockdowns caused a sudden slowdown in global trade. When western demand for Asian-made goods rebounded in the second half of the year, competition among shippers for available containers sent freight rates soaring, reported the FT.