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Container availability improving at Asian ports in January: Container xChange

  • Author
  • Greg Holt
  • Editor
  • Aastha Agnihotri
  • Commodity
  • Shipping

Houston — Container availability at some Asian ports is gradually improving in January after a severe shortage in December and could maintain normal levels in February, online platform Container xChange said Jan. 25.

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The Container Availability Index for China's busiest port at Shanghai nearly tripled to 0.37 for a standard forty-foot container in the third week of January from a nadir of 0.13 in December, where any reading below 0.5 indicates a container shortage, the container repositioning platform announced.

Although demand for empty containers in Shanghai remains greater than supply, this is a normal result of the port's huge export volume. Shanghai averaged a Container Availability Index reading of 0.38 in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic upended container shipping markets, Container xChange said.

"With the vast increase we're seeing in the container availability, Shanghai is on its way back to normal levels," Container xChange said. "A similar development is happening across other ports in China. Qingdao, for instance, even reaches index values of 0.5 for standard equipment – which represents a balanced equipment situation."

Other major Asian ports also benefited from improved container availability in January as shipping lines prioritized the repositioning of empty containers and ramped up equipment purchases. Index readings for Singapore and Port Klang, Malaysia, improved by 58% and 54% this month from December, the platform announced.

"Chinese container factories now work at full production. And due to the aggressive repositioning of empties back to China by the shipping lines, Chinese New Year stands to become the turning point of equipment shortage," Container xChange said.