Photo 178012477 © David Tonelson
© David Tonelson

The Taiwanese government is following its South Korean counterpart by calling on domestic ocean liners to ensure sufficient container shipping slots for local exporters.

The island’s three largest liner operators, Evergreen, Yang Ming and Wan Hai, will make more capacity available this month to meet heightened demand as exporters rush to ship goods before the lunar new year holiday starts on 1 February.

The Maritime Port Bureau said that among the additional slots supplied this month, Yang Ming would offer 2,280 teu for the US west coast, 250 teu for Australia and 200 teu for the US east coast; Evergreen would offer 560 teu for the US east coast and 450 teu for Europe, while Wan Hai will offer 170 teu for India and 60 teu for South America.

Unprecedented logistical bottlenecks caused by Covid-19 have supported freight rates, with no sign of any major correction.

Traditionally, due to long new year holidays in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, liner operators used to reduce capacity during this period. However, due to the unusual situation, Evergreen is offering more slots in February instead, making an additional 560 teu available for US east coast shipments and an extra 800 teu for shipments to Europe.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant has reportedly infected around 100 workers in Long Beach port, causing the Pacific Maritime Association, which negotiates labour agreements for 70 companies on the US west coast, to warn of depleted efficiency over the next two weeks. In the first week of January, the queue to berth at Long Beach was said to have comprised at least 100 vessels.

Simultaneously, growing Covid-19 infections in Ningbo, the world’s third-largest container port, have slowed trucking services.

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