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Chinese ports choke over China's 'zero tolerance' COVID-19 policy

Chinese ports choke over China's 'zero tolerance' COVID-19 policy

Trucks manufactured for export are lined up at a cargo port in Yantai in eastern China's Shandong province, Jul 30, 2021. (Photo: Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING: Several Chinese ports are facing congestion as vessels due to call at Ningbo get diverted and cargo processing slows partly due to stricter disinfection measures called for by China's "zero-tolerance" COVID-19 policy.

On Tuesday, more than 50 container vessels were queuing at Ningbo port, China's second largest marine centre, Refinitiv data showed, up from 28 on Aug 10 when a COVID-19 case was reported at one of its terminals.

China's economy is losing momentum as a result of new coronavirus restrictions and the global supply chains face further strains with the curbs adding to queues at major Chinese transportation hubs, already stretched by a resurgence of consumer spending, shortage of container ships and logjams at ports.

China's Ministry of Transportation has ordered all ports to have special teams to deal with foreign vessels and required their crews to have health certificates or negative tests before allowing them to load and discharge cargos.

Ports also have their own rules, with some applying additional precautions to vessels that stopped at ports in high-risk regions, such as India, Laos or Russia, in the past 21 days.

"China's zero tolerance policy is good for the pandemic but bad for the supply chain," said Dawn Tiura, chief executive officer of Sourcing Industry Group, a US-based association for the sourcing and procurement industry.

"This timing is very tough considering the uptick in back-to-school and return-to-work shopping in addition to the upcoming holiday shopping season."

Ningbo Zhoushan Port Co said in a statement late on Monday its handling volume has returned to about 90 per cent of its average daily level in July, following efforts to mitigate the impact of the shutdown of a terminal, which accounts for about 20 per cent of Ningbo's container handling capacity, after a COVID-19 case was detected there last week.

Vessels scheduled to call at the terminal are being re-routed to the nearby ports. Shanghai port witnessed 34 vessels waiting at anchorage, compared to 27 on Aug 10, while the number of vessels waiting at Xiamen port - 700km south of Ningbo - rose to 18 on Tuesday from four early last week.

Source: Reuters/dv


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