THE coronavirus outbreak is causing
supply chain disruptions that are placing hundreds of millions of
dollars worth of shipping business in jeopardy, in the wake of a massive
decline in raw material imports due to the prolonged factory shutdown
Tanker charter rates have plummeted 80
per cent as the coronavirus outbreak continues to slam the brakes on
large economies, costing the shipping sector hundreds of millions in
lost business, an industry official told Reuters news agency.
While some of the lost revenue cannot be recovered, a trade rebound
could put the sector back into calmer waters later this year, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) secretary-general Guy Platten said.
"On the finished goods side of it you've got empty containers for
example in China and you've got a shortage of containers in the [United]
States because the manufactured goods are not getting out of China and
being transported around the world. It's affecting all the supply chain
throughout the shipping industry," he said.
"There has been an absolute plunge in rates for various classes of ship
... We know that container lines are doing empty sailings. It would be
hundreds of hundreds of millions of dollars [that] would be in jeopardy
now," he said.
Mr Platten was in Geneva to meet World Health Organization officials
leading the international response to the outbreak that has infected
80,000 people and killed 2,700, mostly in China.
Separately, the German shipowners' association VDR told its annual news
conference in Hamburg that terminal operations in Chinese ports were not
going smoothly because truck drivers and port workers were missing.
Containerships' round trips through Chinese ports were being
increasingly cancelled because of low load levels. Shipowners have asked
staff to stay on board and wear face masks, VDR said.
Crews were not being swapped in China, and ships were not receiving and loading food during Chinese port stays, it added.