CMA CGM: Operations at Chinese Seaports are Returning to Normal

Shanghai Yangshan port (file image)

Published Mar 3, 2020 11:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Number-four ocean carrier CMA CGM reports that cargo operations at China's major seaports are beginning to return to normal as public health restrictions related to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) are eased. 

"Manufacturing activities are gradually picking up, more port workers and truck drivers are returning to their posts, and cargo flow is easing up at the major coastal ports. In short, business operations have now entered the recovery phase," CMA CGM wrote. 

However, the epidemic is not yet fully over in China, and CMA CGM is still taking precautions to protect the health and well-being of staff. The group's offices will be run by alternating teams on different work schedules as part of a risk-mitigation strategy. Employees who are working from home during designated hours will continue to serve customers remotely. 

"CMA CGM Group remains fully committed to comply with any regulatory requirements and policies aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19," the company wrote.

Maritime consultancy Sea Intelligence estimates that the disruption to business and cargo operations in China has cost the global ocean carriers at least 1.9 million TEU of business - an amount equal to roughly $1.9 billion in revenue. However, the firm also sees signs of a recovery. 

"Even though the carriers have announced seven more blank sailings over the past week . . . the pace of new blank sailings has clearly declined, suggesting a belief from the carriers that volumes will slowly be brought back to normal levels," said Sea Intelligence CEO Alan Murphy. 

However, even with China recovering, the disruption may take time to work through the broader logistics system. Equipment imbalances due to blanked sailings have been reported in some regions, and this may begin to affect cargo operations in Europe and North America, where exporters rely upon empty boxes from China to provide the containers for their goods.