Shocks to supply chains are engulfing a wider swath of the global economy as the pandemic rages on, threatening to stifle Asia’s trade-led recovery just as soaring freight rates make it harder for businesses to weather another year like 2020.
Shortages of consumer goods like paper towels and work-from-home gear early in the COVID-19 crisis have given way to parts shortfalls in one of the most globally integrated of industries: auto manufacturing.
Compounding the industrial imbalances are transport woes plaguing consumer and healthcare sectors still dealing with a dearth of available shipping containers to move components and finished products out of China, Taiwan, South Korea and Asia’s other export powers.
Photo courtesy of Evergreen Marine Corp. 照片：長榮海運提供
Nerijus Poskus, vice president for global ocean at San Francisco-based freight forwarder Flexport Inc, reckons the world needs the equivalent of 500,000 more 20-foot containers — roughly enough to fill 25 of the largest ships in operation — to satisfy the current demand. In the meantime, standard container rates on transpacific routes are quadruple what they were a year ago. And that is before equipment surcharges and premiums for guaranteed loading are added.
“Anyone paying the freight bills in 2020 though knows the true cost of shipping is much higher than even the recently increased rates,” Poskus said. “We expect that to only increase in 2021.”
The unstoppable rise in container shipping costs is borne out by December figures recently announced by Taiwan’s three major shipping companies — Evergreen Marine Corp, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp and Wan Hai Lines Ltd — which saw a record-breaking year-on-year surge of revenue at 58.8 percent, 35.19 percent and 75.71 percent respectively.
(Bloomberg, with staff writer)
As the COVID-19 pandemic shows signs of slowing down, and having considered the Taiwanese medical system’s ability to cope, as well as the demands of business and trade, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), announced that, starting March 1, foreigners (including those from Hong Kong, Macao and China) holding valid residence certificates for Taiwan can enter the country without applying for permission in advance. However, they are required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result obtained within three days before their flight, and home isolation after entry still
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