March 16th 2020
Dear valued customer,
Hereby a market update on the measures taken by authorities in Europe.
Also more information about the port operations in Europe and United States, as these continents are currently severely impacted by the corona virus.
Latest decisions by some EU countries:
The situation in several European countries is deteriorating, having a big impact on daily life and business continuity.
• On Saturday evening the Spanish government declared a nationwide lockdown (state of emergency) as the country is severely hit by the corona virus outbreak. People in Spain are only allowed to leave their homes to travel to work, or if they want to go to a shop to buy food or medicines. Earlier the authorities already closed most shops and restaurants.
• In France the authorities ordered the closure of all non-essential public buildings. Restaurants and pubs are closed, but also the ski resorts and other places of entertainment. France is also cutting back long-distance travel by train and use of the airports.
Schools will open only for the children of health workers. Employers are requested to promote teleworking where possible.
• Belgium already announced on Thursday evening the closure of pubs and restaurants until April 3. Schools will only remain open to take care of those children whose parents need to go to work. Also the Belgian government called companies to promote work from home.
•The Dutch government announced on Sunday evening March 15th that schools, restaurants, sport clubs … in the Netherlands will be closed as from Monday until April 6.
• After the announcement last Wednesday by the US that they would refuse all incoming passengers from the European countries in the Schengen Area, now also a lot of other countries came up with travel restrictions.
Inland trucking and port terminals in Europe:
From a logistics’ point of view, the question is if transport of cargo between European countries will be affected or delayed by the increased border controls within Europe. And so far it’s unclear what the impact will be on the business continuity of companies (production facilities, cold stores) and seaport operations. Several countries including Denmark, Poland and Germany imposed border controls or closures to halt the spread of the virus.
For example Germany is going to close its borders with France, Austria and Switzerland, although these restrictions would not be applied to commuters and goods traffic – according to news agency DPA. The border between Spain and Portugal will be closed for a least a month, according to the FT, except for goods vehicles and trans-border workers.
Ms von der Leyen, the European Commission president, called on governments to coordinate border closures, saying that the EU could not afford to risk the breakdown of the single market. On Monday the Commission will provide guidance for national governments to assure that “goods keep flowing across Europe without obstacles”. Brussels is planning an emergency EU anti-coronavirus package to toughen cross-border health checks and ease the movement of goods and people.
Overview for some European countries:
• We learned from port operator MPET & DP World that the terminal is working normally, although container equipment remains a big concern.
• The Port of Antwerp has installed a taskforce to monitor the corona crisis and guarantee the operations in the port. All incoming ships must present a Maritime Declaration of Health and ships are checked by Saniport.
So far, at Shipex, we haven’t seen any impact on the port operations by Covid-19.
• The Belgian Minister Bellot, responsible for transport, has announced that the authorities will be flexible with regard to the enforcement of conditions for truck drivers involved in the transport of food, medicines and other vital resources.
• Terminals in Netherlands remain open on both land & sea side. Some delays with empty out/full in.
• Various truckers informed us that most operations are going smoothly
• most cold stores are up and running
• Shipping line Yang Ming announced on Friday that they close their offices in Italy, they have local offices in Genoa, La Spezia and Livorno
• Most sea-terminals are closed for activities.
• After strikes 2 month ago, now all back to normal, including Dunkerque terminal (however, lack of equipment remains)
• Truckers allowed to cross the border (France => Belgium) despite full lockdown in France.
• most cold stores are up and running
• Due to very limited import from China on the Transpacific, the sea port terminals at the US West Coast, Los Angeles & Long Beach, reported a significant downturn in container volumes during February. At the Port of Long Beach (POLB) imports in February dropped 18 % versus last year, according to Container News. Our agent informed us that these ports now operate only 2 days a week (instead of 6 days a week).
• This is having a serious impact on the load planning of shippers. Moreover terminals get congested, reason why carriers as CMA and MSC send mega-vessels to these ports to evacuate empty containers to China.
• Same problem could occur at the US East Coast (e.g. Baltimore), which could affect important trades from Europe.
• With regard to the inland operations in the US, due to the serious decline of import volumes, hardly any block trains (between the West and East Coast) were operational, resulting in an increased need for trucking. Additional problem is the lack of sufficient container chassis.