Asian Ports Rebound as Lockdown Loosens But Backlog Remains

Daily operations at Shanghai’s port have almost fully recovered from the effects of the city’s Covid-19 lockdown, though the backlog from disruptions to the port and nearby factories will likely continue to cause shipping congestion well into the year.

Daily container throughput -- a measure of cargo handling activity -- at Shanghai port has rebounded to 95.3% of the normal level. Cargo throughput at major Chinese ports between May 1 and May 24 was up 4.2% from the same period in April, but down almost 1% compared to 2021. 

However, the improvement in the port hasn’t been accompanied by a rebound in trucking, as a shortage of drivers and vehicles continues to hamper the delivery of goods to and from the port. Truck Freight indexes were 81% lower in the first three weeks of May compared to 2021, after a drop of 84% in April.

While the lockdown of Chinese ports is slowly being lifted, the effects on production and supply chains will likely be felt for months. As firms reopen there will be a rush to purchase raw materials, and then a flood of finished goods leaving factories as companies try to make up for lost time.