Busan new port

As consumer demand in Europe and North America drops off a cliff, fears have grown among logistics operators of an impending container congestion crisis at import destinations as shipments arranged before widespread social lockdowns have continued towards their destinations.

In response, MSC has introduced a suspension of transit (SOT) programme to help shippers and their freight service providers prevent container exports out of Asia building up at ports, by offering terminal yard storage capacity.

The line has secured capacity at some of its terminals at six ports – Bremerhaven in Germany, Busan in South Korea, King Abdullah Port in Saudi Arabia, Lome in Togo, Rodman PSA Panama International in Panama and Tekirdag Asyaport in Turkey.

Its customers can store laden containers there until port operations at import terminals are able to resume processing them.

“The SOT initiative is focused on a resumption of demand of a wide variety of goods from Asia,” the carrier said. “It provides potential cost savings for customers faced with high warehousing storage costs at destination, demurrage, per-diem and other charges.

“It will also free-up space at origin factories and warehouses and avoid excess inventory at site, bringing cargo closer to destination markets and alleviating the risk of congestion or closure at ports of discharge.”

Despite the resumption of production at Chinese factories, the shuttering of swathes of retail and manufacturing facilities around the world means cargo coming out of China, effectively, has nowhere to go.

The carrier added: “MSC’s new SOT programme aims to fulfil the resuming demand for raw materials and finished products from Asia by providing yard storage at major strategic points around the world. The lead time will be reduced once operations resume at destination ports, and the programme will also add storage for beneficial cargo owners and non-vessel owning common carriers which would otherwise reach their full capacity.”

It said, however, that the programme was aimed at all shippers for containers from Asia and all types of cargo, “except reefer (refrigerated cargo), dangerous goods and project cargo, such as large, out-of-gauge pieces of heavy equipment that do not normally fit into containers”.

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