Global port congestion in Q2 2023 had improved significantly from its peak in Q4 2021, but it is still far from normal. The main factors that have contributed to the improvement are the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the return of some ships to service after being idled during the pandemic, and the deployment of new mega-ships that can carry more cargo. However, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed, such as the shortage of labor at ports, the lack of capacity on landside transportation networks, and the high cost of shipping.
In Q2 2023, the average waiting time for ships to enter the top 20 container ports in the world was 6.2 days, down from a peak of 16.2 days in Q4 2021. The average dwell time (the amount of time a ship spends at a port after it has docked) was 4.4 days, down from a peak of 10.3 days in Q4 2021. The improvement in port congestion has helped to reduce shipping delays and costs. However, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed.
The shortage of labor at ports is a major challenge. The pandemic has led to a decline in the number of workers at ports, and it has been difficult to attract new workers to the industry. The lack of capacity on landside transportation networks is another challenge. The increase in shipping volumes has put a strain on roads, railways, and warehouses. The high cost of shipping is also a challenge. The cost of shipping a container from Asia to Europe has increased by more than 50% in the past year.
Despite these challenges, the improvement in port congestion is a positive development. It is helping to reduce shipping delays and costs, and it is making it easier for businesses to get the goods they need. The industry is working to address the challenges that remain, and it is confident that port congestion will continue to improve in the coming months.
Using container dwell time as a measure of congestion, the following ports are the most congested region wise in Q2 2023:
During Q2 2023, the port of Baltimore took the lead in export dwell time, with an average delay of 26 days and a median delay of 12 days. Meanwhile, the port of Long Beach experienced an average dwell time of 16 days and a median time of 10 days, indicating a slightly shorter delay compared to Baltimore.
Import dwell times in the first quarter of 2023 were notably higher at the port of Los Angeles, with an average of 5.3 days longer than other ports. The median dwell time at this port was 5 days. Comparatively, the port of Oakland had an average dwell time of 4.8 days and a median time of 5.8 days.
During Q2 2023, the port of Trieste, Italy, stood out in terms of export dwell, with an average of 14.1 days and a median of 14 days. Other ports such as Le Havre, Bremerhaven, and Breivik also reported similar dwell durations.
In the Q2 2023, the port of Barcelona, led in export dwell by an average of 10 days and at a median time of 10.6 days. Import activities faced a lot of challenges due to the geo-political situation in the region.
Comparing cargo processing efficiency, Nhava Sheva port emerged as a top performer, with an average dwell time of 4.8 days and a median of 4 days. In contrast, Colombo port lagged behind with an average dwell time of 6.2 days and a median of 5.1 days. Following closely were Port Klang and Pat Bangkok port, while the port of Dhaka stood out for its significant efficiency in Q2 2023.
In imports, the port of Singapore had significantly lower dwell times than any other port in the SEA region. The port of Cebu led with highest dwell time with an average of 9.9 days and at a median of 8.8 days due to the regional festive season.
In conclusion, analyzing port dwell times, imports, and exports is crucial for understanding the performance and dynamics of the ports. Dwell times, representing the duration cargo spends at ports, can impact supply chain efficiency and overall costs. Factors such as infrastructure, customs procedures, port congestion, and labor availability influence dwell times.
Ocean carriers are likely to encounter persisting inefficiencies in the container system during the initial half of 2023, as congestion spreads to smaller ports. Nevertheless, the latter part of the year holds potential for marked improvements.