Empty Cargo Container Shortage Threatens China Import Trade

Despite a glimmer of hope this week in the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) negotiations on the West Coast, the beleaguered West Coast import trade community is facing yet another serious crisis.  There is a growing shortage of empty containers in China to carry the unexpected high volume of U.S. imports.

While high demand itself is part of the problem, the escalating empty container crunch is also a result of the following factors:

  • Port congestion slowing container turn times
  • Moderate U.S. export levels
  • Vessel slowdowns affecting scheduling
  • Slower return of empties at destination
  • Inefficient chassis usage in USA
  • Overall inadequacy of worldwide container pool

It is also worth mentioning that airlines are expecting a very large spike in air cargo (and prices) out of China in the next several weeks.

We are monitoring the empty containers aspect of the overall Far East cargo crisis and will keep you informed in the few weeks between now and Chinese New Year.