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Global Update: November 12, 2021

In the second week of the COP26 Climate Summit, leaders from 19 developed nations signed the Clydebank Declaration, an agreement to invest in clean energy infrastructure and establish “at least six green corridors by the middle of this decade” —shipping routes with zero emissions. The U.N. Climate Summit intends to limit global warming to 1.5ºC (2.7ºF) by 2100, and world leaders have started doing good by their pledges. Oil producers say that the air travel recovery will sap any surplus fuel next year in its 2022 forecasts, but many airlines have started to introduce Sustainable Aviation Fuels as an option to their routes—potentially making air transport carbon neutral. While global air carriers prepare for a winter peak season, the sea freight market enters slack season. Rollovers are becoming more commonplace and cargo vessels are avoiding major ports around the world in response to increased dwell times and ship traffic. But due to the endemic congestion in the U.S. ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Wan Hai Lines has started reassigning vessels from transpacific to intra-Asia routes. Across Eurasia, congestion is forecast to continue into 2022 as shippers and sea freight carriers eye the Northern Sea corridors for performance reliability that the European Union is trying to harmonize across its rail networks.

Regional Focus

The White House highlighted progress made over the past week at U.S. ports; more strikes have begun across Asia-Pacific in response to rising oil prices; and Europe’s air market rises in response to reopened borders in the U.S.


Despite 24-hour shifts & excess dwell fees meant to reduce congestions at Southern California ports, the number of ships waiting to dock reached 111 on Tuesday. Traffic has also increased in surrounding ports, with cargo terminals at the port of San Diego seeing up to four extra ships per month. This has also led to increased container dwell times at other U.S. ports, leading the port authority of Tacoma to follow the examples of Los Angeles and Long Beach by charging daily fees for uncollected containers. Other ports in Georgia, New York, and New Jersey, have also reported increased dwell times.

On Wednesday, the White House highlighted progress made over the past week that appears to indicate the backlog is easing as the number of containers lingering for more than nine days has fallen over 20%. In another announcement, President Biden released details on an infrastructure bill that includes $17 billion dollars for improvements to U.S. ports and waterways.

Shortages in personnel, equipment, and shipping containers have led the Port of Manzanillo to request help from the federal government to help improve the port’s infrastructure. After interest rates in Mexico rose for the fourth time since June, the opening of the U.S. Mexico border for non-essential travel offers an optimistic outlook for the country’s exports as nearly three quarters of airlines now expect their air cargo volumes to rise over the next year.


Amid China’s tightening of the supply of urea, a diesel additive, panic buying has ensued across South Korea. While the country’s foreign ministry reports having secured enough of the diesel additive to last three months, experts insist that the shortage will persist until Beijing relaxes its export restrictions. In response to the rise in transportation costs that this has exacerbated, Korea’s cargo truck drivers have announced general strikes that are being planned for late November and December. More strikes have begun across Asia as a response to rising prices for oil and diesel including protests in Indonesia, Thailand, and Bangladesh, where a trucker strike began after diesel prices were raised by more than 20%. The strike came to an end on Wednesday after less than a week of protests when the government agreed to help raise wages for truckers. Southeast Asia’s air market fluctuated over the past week: Cathay Pacific increased cargo flight frequencies between Colombo and Hong Kong as India celebrated Diwali. Air capacity decreased slightly ex Thailand, while Singapore Airlines increased service frequency to Nanjing-Lukou.

Europe, Middle East, and Africa

Ripple effects can be seen across Europe after the U.S. opened its borders to international travel for vaccinated travelers. Germany’s Frankfurt Airport saw its best month since the start of the pandemic with more than 3.4 million passengers and over 190,000 tons of cargo passing through. Many airports across the U.K. are already overrun with congestion: London’s Heathrow Airport has had to delay imports by up to five days and turn away a number of exports because there is no room to offload. With COP26 taking place across the British island, the Port of Felixstowe has made a large decarbonization investment by buying 48 electric tractors and 17 electric cranes. In Belgium, the energy minister met with Chilean representatives at the COP26 Summit to facilitate a deal that would make ports in Antwerp and Zeebrugge official market channels for Chile’s exports of green hydrogen, something that Chile has guaranteed it can supply at the world’s most competitive prices. Chile has made similar accords with Singapore and Belgium. A two-day strike at Piraeus Port also delayed cargo movement from November 10.


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