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Shortage of containers drives hike in marine shipping prices

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The price of shipping a 40-foot container to China from Sihanoukville Autonomous Port reportedly more than tripled between August and now. Hong Menea

Shortage of containers drives hike in marine shipping prices

International marine cargo shipping services in Cambodia have become more expensive over the past few months, further compounding exporters’ Covid-19-related woes.

The price hike comes as fewer container ships from China and Europe dock in the Kingdom on the back of dwindling inbound orders of raw materials to supply the Kingdom’s factories amid Covid-19.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy told The Post on December 3 that it now costs $2,000 to ship a 40-foot container to China from Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, eclipsing the $600 price tag seen in August.

He pointed out similar price increases for shipments to the US and Europe.

“The price will likely retreat again in January or February 2021, and if not, we’ll seek government intervention,” Chanthy said, noting that the jump in prices had damaged the transport sector and companies’ competitive advantages.

“This increase in fees will affect consumer prices and the national economy as a whole,” he warned.

Logistics company VTS (Cambodia) Co Ltd on November 28 announced that it had temporarily suspended its marine shipping services from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in favour of land transport.

But it will continue ocean transport out of its base of operations in Yiwu city in eastern Zhejiang province with prices subject to change, the company added.

Cambodia Rice Federation secretary-general Lun Yeng said the Kingdom faces a shortage of cargo ships to export milled rice to European markets, noting that exporters were turning to ports in Vietnam and Thailand to ship out their wares.

He chalked this up to disruptions in the supply chain and logistics sector across Europe resulting from Brexit as its transition period draws ever nearer to its December 31 end.

“As recently as November, we witnessed a shortage of containers to export Cambodian milled rice to Europe, not many ships from Europe came to Cambodia. Prices also skyrocketed.

“As is characteristic, with less cargo coming in, fewer ships will be available to send back out, and likewise, there’ll be no containers either.

“We believe that the situation will improve when Covid-19 eases and the final terms of any Brexit deal are determined,” Yeng said.

Cambodia exported $14.1 billion worth of goods in the first nine months of this year, up 20.07 per cent from the same period last year, the Ministry of Economy and Finance reported.

Topping the list of export items were milled rice, bicycles, electrical appliances and agricultural products such as legumes, cashew nuts and yellow bananas, according to the report.

The Kingdom’s imports in January-September were valued at $13.6 billion, dipping 8.7 per cent year-on-year, the data show.


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