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President of ASOEX: Situation in China Could Cause Container Shortage

February 17, 2020

Yesterday morning in an interview on Chile’s 13 Radio, the Minister of Agriculture, José Ignacio Pinochet, reported that a global shortage of containers is likely owing to the current situation in China. This is another potential challenge to fruit exporters with business in China.

Ronald Bown Fernández, president of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX), stated that “There is indeed a lower availability of refrigerated containers, caused by reduced activity at China’s ports due to the COVID-19 coronavirus and the extension of the Chinese New Year holidays. At present there is a back-up of containers in the Chinese market, affecting not only our fruit, but also other countries and products that use refrigerated containers. In light of this, we believe that if the flow is not regulated there could be a shortage of containers from March or April of this year.”

“Shipping companies and customers understand this situation and are monitoring it regularly. We hope this shortage of containers does not eventuate. Our country experienced a container shortage two seasons ago, and we were able to manage the situation. However, if containers do not start to return from China, this could cause greater complications,” he added.

Bown also observed that significant congestion at the ports of Shanghai and Tianjin has caused ships to divert to alternative ports such as Hong Kong, among others. This obliged Chilean export companies to change all existing export documentation (bills of lading, certificates of origin and phytosanitary certificates). Bown credited several public services, including the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG), Chilean customs and ProChile, for their valuable and timely collaboration in order to make this possible.

Finally, he stressed that as of yesterday in China, “wholesale markets are continuing to make a fairly slow recovery, with a 30% increase in the daily sales of containers. There are currently 2,106 containers of Chilean fruit in stock ready for sale. These comprise 1,465 containers of cherries, 325 of nectarines, 158 of blueberries, 97 of plums, 41 of avocados and 21 of table grapes.”

Image: Pixabay