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Container rates soaring

Covid infection closes shipping terminal at Ningbo-Zhoushan Port

On Wednesday, an employee at the Meishan Terminal of China’s Ningbo-Zhoushan Port tested positive for the coronavirus despite being fully inoculated; it was an asymptomatic infection. Now, the world’s largest shipping port by cargo tonnage has shut down one of its key terminals following a confirmed case of Covid-19. The news came as container shipping rates from China and Southeast Asia to the east coast of the United States hit a record high of more than US$20,600 per 20-foot equivalent unit.

Port authorities quickly locked down the Meishan area – including the terminal and bonded warehouse – and suspended its operations indefinitely, according to a statement released by the local government in Ningbo, Zhejiang province.

However, the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, which is also the world’s third-busiest port in terms of container traffic, remains open, and Meishan’s shipments can be redirected to other terminals, according to industry insiders.

According to, there has been no official announcement yet on how long the terminal will be closed. The outbreak at Yantian in eastern Shenzhen in late May resulted in a partial lockdown lasting four weeks.

Meishan accounts for approximately 20% of the near 30m teu that pass through the port each year. There are currently a total of 41 container services calling Meishan, eight into North America, six for Europe, and two for the Red Sea. The Meishan closure mainly impacts the Ocean Alliance, a grouping made up of Cosco, OOCL, CMA CGM and Evergreen.


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