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Capacity at major ports in China’s southern manufacturing hub is being pushed to the limit by tighter coronavirus controls.

Delays are spreading in the world’s busiest port cluster in Shenzen and Guangzhou as operators of most of the ports, including Yantian, Shekou and Nansha, plan to keep stringent disinfection and quarantine measures in place until next week at least, reports the South China Morning Post.

Yantian 'worse than Suez'

According to the Loadstar, the already severe congestion at Yantian is now “worse than Suez” and spreading, with new testing rules for truck drivers.

Lars Jensen, CEO of consultancy Vespucci Maritime, said there were now 153 vessels impacted and 132 complete omissions in the region, compared with 87 ships directly affected by the six-day Suez Canal blockage.

The congestion at Yantian, southern China’s biggest export container port, follows tightened controls over a detected Covid-19 outbreak on 25 May amongst port workers.

Freight costs up

Lloyds Loading List reports that this has resulted in cancellations or bypassing Yantian and escalating congestion and restrictions at neighbouring Shekou Port in Shenzhen and Nansha Port in Guangzhou.  

Interruptions have reduced container supply further with freight prices between China and North Europe rising by 535% in the past year according to freight tracker Project44.

Echoing this, on BBC 4’s Today show yesterday, Hornby Railways CEO Lyndon Davies reported the firm’s 28% jump in sales in the past year but also said the congestion at Yantian was, for firms like Hornby, “far worse than Suez”.

On track to success

The company imports many of its products from East Asia, and has been affected by closures at Chinese ports, reports Toyworld.

“There are still shipping delays from our supply chain with container shortages,” said Lyndon. “Shipping costs from our factories are three times what they were previously.”

Hornby ceased exports to the EU in December due to uncertainty around post-Brexit trade rules, as reported by the BBC. However, Lyndon said it has recently resumed shipping to the EU although “there are still delays in certain countries whose procedures are unnecessarily rigid”.