Labor delays and strikes in German and Dutch ports have created a large pile of export containers to the United States, which will take months to clear.
According to bills found through ImportGenius, some of the items exported from these ports are important components of the automotive sector, such as lithium batteries, fully assembled cars, as well as a wide range of car parts and chassis. Mercedes, BMWand Ford mentioned in recent US Customs documents.
“U.S. importers need to look four to five weeks in advance to see if a ship is available,” said Andreas Brown, Europe, Middle East and Africa Ocean products director at Crane Worldwide Logistics. “It’s not normal. Also, if you have a chance to book a place on the ship, then you have to find an empty container that can be in the hinterland.”
Home decor, flooring and furniture from Ikea were also listed.
“The congestion from these ports is spreading to other major European ports,” Brown said.
Ship arrivals, container handling and container availability, as well as delays in cargo transportation are common problems.
According to Sea-Intelligence, which tracks the reliability of ship schedules, only 30-40% of all global schedules are on time. Brown said that overcrowding will be exacerbated during logistics planning.
Unfortunately, moving empty or full containers from the hinterland or ports is also a problem. Rail congestion, slowing down the workforce and strikes left the rails clogged.
“They can’t bring any containers to the port (Hamburg and Bremerhaven) ahead of time,” Brown said. “They have to wait seven days before they leave, and even that doesn’t mean it will be automatically loaded onto the ship, because the capacity of the railway yard is high and there are traffic jams.”
While congestion, which reduces the availability of containers, is a source of concern for importers, the lack of accepted containers can increase tariffs. These costs are passed on to the consumer, which increases inflation.
“Yes, the strikes have had a big impact, but the traffic jam has accumulated so much that even if there are no more strikes, the situation will remain chaotic for the next three months,” Brown said. “Some carriers have evaded volumes from German ports to Antwerp and Rotterdam, which has led to an increase in congestion. This traffic jam has created a domino effect of delays. Ships from Europe to the east coast of the United States will also lag behind,” he added.
After a container was on board, Brown told CNBC that U.S. importers could expect containers to arrive between seven and nine days late.
The German trade union Verdi and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) begin the sixth round of talks on Tuesday.
CNBC Supply Chain Heat Map data providers are artificial intelligence and forecasting analytics company Everstream Analytics; global freight booking platform Freightos, creator of the Freightos Baltic Dry Index; logistics providers OL USA; supply chain exploration platform FreightWaves; supply chain platform Blume Global; third-party logistics provider Orient Star Group; MarineTraffic marine analytics firm; marine visibility data company Project44; maritime transport information company MDS Transmodal UK; Xeneta, a comparative analytical firm for ocean and air cargo; Sea-Intelligence ApS, a leading provider of research and analysis; Crane Worldwide Logistics; and Seko Logistics, an airline, DHL Global Forwarding and freight logistics provider.