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Aperture & Focus August 19th

Aperture and Focus: August 19, 2022

Global Aperture

Record-breaking heatwaves and ongoing droughts throughout the northern hemisphere have reduced more than just water levels—several industry, academic, and government officials have described slowdowns in the flow of goods and manufacturing operations around the world. The unusual summer conditions have resulted in deadly floods across Asia, and may lead to a heavier hurricane season in the Atlantic.

Consumer demand tracks downward across developed markets just two and a half months away from China’s Golden Week holidays, softening cargo demand ahead of winter. But resilient petrol output from Russian, Iranian, and Arab exporters may tilt energy markets back down as well.

Regional Focus

Americas

Inflation-related shifts in consumer trends lead to a drop in US imports, which leaves many retailers with a glut of inventory and may in turn reduce purchase orders leading into winter peak season. In the meantime, many shippers continue to abstain from maritime transport due to intermodal congestion and storage deficits. Cargo vessels are reportedly backed up at US Gulf and East Coast ports—the very same ports that saw surges of raw material imports in July.

The slowdown may induce another seasonal demand spillover to air cargo if the ongoing rail conflict is not resolved in the next 30 days—the Presidential Emergency Board published its investigative report on August 16 for operator and union consideration. Los Angeles Port beckons cargo ships to return to the West Coast after clearing 90% of backlogged vessels, but West Coast port labor talks have also stalled due to an internal union dispute in Seattle.

Asia-Pacific

An unprecedented heatwave is drying up China’s Yangtze River and forcing provincial leaders to impose power rationing across 19 key areas. As a result, some production plants in Shanghai, Ningbo, Zhejiang, and Sichuan have intermittently suspended operations, affecting the verticals of consumer electronics, metal alloys, and solar equipment. Shanghai officials extend Covid-19 mass testing to September on reports of new outbreaks, in turn adding delays to ground transport.

China’s aviation regulator held a press conference on August 18, declaring that air cargo business has recovered from lockdown conditions with the resumption of flight services to many international destinations. Direct passenger flights between China and the UK have also resumed thanks to an updated agreement between the countries’ air authorities.

Chittagong port congestion eased as new equipment was put into use and import volumes declined.

The Australian Department of Agriculture issued an export advisory for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug; all shipments will come with a fee, will require a declaration to avoid being placed on hold, and will be treated with sulfuryl fluoride.

 

Europe, Middle East & Africa

Summer heatwaves have exposed more than 20 sunken World War II vessels along the Danube River. In response to this disruption and an ongoing energy crisis, Germany has adjusted rail networks to give priority to equipment and materials that are necessary for energy production.

Carriers are adjusting service strategies ahead of a planned eight-day strike at the Port of Felixstowe to minimize disruption: offloading imports, redirecting routes, or blanking sailings altogether. Union members at the Port of Liverpool also voted in favor of a strike after failing to reach a wage agreement with the port. A separate strike ballot for port maintenance engineers remains open until August 24.

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