India’s devastating Covid-19 crisis is threatening operations at some of its biggest ports, raising concerns. The action could trigger shipping delays that reverberate through global supply chains.
The situation may echo global trade disruptions seen last year after virus restrictions slowed shipments into China. While India accounts for only fraction of the global trade that China does, any delays in offloading vessels and releasing them to their next destination could create supply chain bottlenecks.
India has 21.9 million tons of cargoes scheduled to arrive during May-June’21 but with labor shortages and force majeure at some ports, many of the vessels could see discharge delays. That may have a knock-on effect on scheduled loadings at the exporting countries.
In the global shipping scenario, India’s surging second wave of COVID-19 infections has dealt a hard blow to the global shipping industry as India is one of the largest suppliers of crew. The sudden surge in coronavirus infections and a shortage of vaccines have left ship workers high and dry.
It has sparked travel curbs and restrictions on Indian crews, sending shipping firms scrambling to find replacements.
Global ports are now slamming doors on Indian crew and vessels. Companies are insisting on vaccinated workers and seafarers, spelling bad news for an already stretched maritime sector.
With a growing number of seaports and airports closing their doors to seafarers to and from India, shipping companies say it’s leading to bottlenecks in crew changes. Several companies are temporarily tapping seafarers from other nations to replace Indians scheduled to board ships.
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If one positive could be drawn out of the devastating global COVID 19 crisis, it is the fact that this calamitous pandemic has made people more conscious about the need for healthier lifestyles, nutrition as well as their environmental footprint.
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Looking within a short-term horizon, the outlook for container shipping over the next 2-3 months appears relatively well-known, although certainly not well-liked by shippers. In essence, we will continue to see a situation of bottleneck problems, capacity shortages and high pressure on rates. This is, hopefully, not a surprise to anyone now.