Sea and air freight delays affect Taiwanese fresh produce

Fruit and vegetable trade with Taiwan is affected by new quarantine measures, ports closures, ship delays and suspended flights, as US agri-trade exporters struggle to find available cargo space. While Taiwan has not announced any new quarantine restrictions for sea-going vessels, air freight or incoming horticultural products due to the new Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), systemic delays affect total US fruit and vegetable exports to Taiwan and the rest of the world.
The Taiwanese authorities have pointed out the harmful effects on their domestic industry and are taking measures to curb trade disruption. Cargo ship and Cheng sails into the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Most international sea vessels sail on routes between major North American, Asian and African ports. Any delay in sea freight can have a cascade effect that reduces availability and increases costs for shippers. Taiwan is not normally the only destination for container ships, nor is it the first stop in Asia, so it is vulnerable to disruptions caused by the actions of neighboring countries.

Australia and Vietnam have both recently announced that 14-day quarantine regulations will apply to all ships departing from China, which will delay ships in transit through these major hubs. Other countries can follow this example. Seven of the ten largest container ports in the world are located in China.

During the Chinese New Year holiday, most shippers skip one to two ports of call due to reduced demand. Until now, however, almost all major shippers, including Maersk, MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE and CMA-CGM, have announced additional transhipment or delays. So far, the two most important freight forwarders from Taiwan, Evergreen and Yang Ming, have sent unofficial notifications of additional ship delays.

Air cargo is also disrupted. On Monday, February 3, 2020, British Airways IAG Cargo canceled all services to and from China for the remainder of the month. DHL has reported that there are "serious disruptions of inbound and outbound air freight shipments, trucking and rail freight services".

In addition, UPS announced an agreement with its pilot association that is flying to China will be voluntary during the ongoing virus outbreak. FedEx reported that international flights were not affected, but local logistics within China were. Many highly perishable foods often go via air freight, which increases the pressure on export shippers who are looking for alternatives due to the delays of the containers.

Here as well, logistical problems affecting China are expected to spread to the outside world, to Taiwan and the neighboring economies.

Source: Taiwan Impacted as Agricultural Trade Disrupted by
Coronavirus (USDA)

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