MOSCOW – A dramatic spike in trade between China and Russia has left a staggering 150,000 shipping containers stranded in Russia. This unforeseen logistical nightmare is a direct consequence of the escalating trade relations between the two nations, primarily fueled by China’s expanding exports to Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.
Container repositioning expert, Container xChange, has shed light on the predicament, revealing that there has been a colossal 63% surge in Chinese exports to Russia during the initial eight months of 2023. However, this remarkable uptick in one direction of trade has not been reciprocated in the other direction, leaving a surplus of containers stranded in Russia. This glut of containers has set off a scramble among importers to repatriate them, which has, in turn, begun to exert considerable pressure on container prices.
The cause behind this unprecedented shift in trade dynamics can be traced back to Chinese suppliers stepping in to meet the demands of the Russian market, particularly in the wake of global brands abandoning Russia following the conflict in Ukraine. As a consequence, consumer products like cars and electronics are being extensively exported from China to Russia, effectively filling the void left by these retreating global brands.
The striking consequence of this stranded container surplus is the nosedive in the price of a 40-foot container within Moscow. What was once valued at an astonishing $4,175 in February 2022, plummeted to an astonishingly low $580 in September. This sharp drop in container prices is in stark contrast to the global market, which has experienced an upward trend in container prices during the same period.
As businesses grapple with the logistics of this mounting container congestion, all eyes are on the intricate dance of international trade relations. The situation remains dynamic, with repercussions reverberating throughout the industry, sparking a variety of strategies to mitigate the logistical quandary and stabilize the container market.