The number of ships waiting to enter one of the world’s busiest ports rose to the highest since August, threatening to further crimp global supply chains strained by rising consumer demand for everything from cars to computers.
China’s Yantian port in Shenzhen suspended container pickup and delivery as Tropical Cyclone Kompasu approached the country’s southern coast. The number of ships waiting outside the port rose to 67, the highest number since August 26.
Located near Shenzhen, China’s technology capital, and the manufacturing belt of the Pearl River Delta, Yantian is one of the world’s busiest ports, with a cargo volume of 13.34 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2020, according to figures from the Shenzhen Bureau of Transportation. It usually handles about 100 ships a week.
Kompasu is the second tropical storm to hit southern China in recent days, after Lionrock caused flooding in some low-lying areas of Hong Kong over the weekend. Kompasu’s damage could be more severe based on its current track and intensity forecasts.
Bottlenecks at container terminals around the world have increased pressure on supply chains already struggling to meet demand. Outbreaks of Covid-19 at ports, coupled with container and labor shortages, have exacerbated the problem, and China-the world’s largest manufacturer-has suffered several port disruptions this year.
The country takes a zero-tolerance approach to the virus, and in the past has shut down port operations for isolated cases. An outbreak in Yantian in June led to a shutdown, which caused volumes to drop as far away as the port of Los Angeles. The port of Ningbo-Zhoushan closed for two weeks in August due to a delta variant infection.
Weather has also wreaked havoc, and Shanghai’s container port, the world’s largest, halted some operations last month amid a typhoon.