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Shanghai lockdown is not causing global supply chain chaos (yet)

First came China’s Wuhan lockdown in February 2020. Then came the closing of Yantian in Shenzhen, the world’s fourth-largest port, in June 2021. Now, Shanghai — site of the world’s largest port — is in extended lockdown. The first two events had extreme effects on container shipping to the U.S. But Shanghai is no Wuhan or Yantian, at least not yet.

Shanghai export box wait times

One fear is that China’s strict COVID policy will lead to a pileup of containers at Shanghai’s port. The big difference this time around is that Shanghai’s port remains in operation.

Waiting times for containers in Shanghai terminals awaiting export as well as import containers unloaded from ships are tracked by project 44.

Waiting time for export containers, including those headed for the U.S., has actually decreased during the lockdown period: from 3.1 days on March 28 to 2.1 days on Monday. “This improvement is because fewer containers are getting to the port in the first place, while simultaneously, sufficient vessel capacity is available to handle those export containers,” said project44.

The weekly average wait time for export containers in the week ending Sunday was three days. In contrast, when Yantian shut down last June, weekly average export container wait times in that port spiked to 25 days.

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