Shanghai has said it would gradually reopen after weeks of city closure, but large shipping companies say it does not mean the global supply could recover instantly.

As Bloomberg reported on May 18, Jeremy Nixon, Ocean Network Express’s chief executive officer, said that a backlog of 130 ships has formed off Shanghai, the world’s largest port. China’s unmoving zero-COVID policy has slowed the manufacturing and delivery of everything from bathroom faucets to Apple iPhones, straining global supply networks.

Bloomberg shipping data showed that the number of cargo vessels seen in Shanghai and the Ningbo-Zhoushan region is still 11% higher than last year. Meanwhile, FourKites data showed the number of containers in and out of Shanghai port by road has decreased.

As Bloomberg noted, the supply chain interruption has spread to southern ports. Container ships off the coasts of Shenzhen and Hong Kong reached a seven-month high of 184 vessels on May 17. Nearly double that of 95 ships last year.

Another factor to consider, according to Nixon, is labor shortages in rail, port, and transportation in China and the U.S. This problem must be resolved soon because it delays ships at crucial ports.

Besides the closure, labor shortages still exist, and infrastructure shortages still exist despite government efforts. Nixon added that more ships could be put into service, but there would be nothing to do when they ran out.

As the South China Morning Post reported, Shanghai’s port lost roughly 40% of its capacity in April due to pandemic restrictions that created a scarcity of personnel and truckers.

According to the outlet, Shanghai requests that transportation passes include a 48-hour record of Covid-19 test results and China’s health code. The city believes this should assist in alleviating any jams in the virus screening process.

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