2 February 2021
Reacting to the current disruptions in the international container trade, the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) stresses the importance of restoring the stability in the market, increasing the schedule reliability, as well as guaranteeing the continuity and fluidity of supply chains. The efforts of all stakeholders in the supply chain are needed to support the recovery of trade.
As a consequence of the outbreak of the global pandemic in the beginning of 2020 and the corresponding temporary disruptions and decline in trade of consumer goods, the liner shipping sector decided to take vessels out of the market to reduce their capacity. Over summer, container traffic volumes have been returning to normal levels and even booming afterwards.
The container imbalance and the reduction of capacity in liner shipping has seriously impacted the shippers and freight forwarders. Schedule reliability has been further declining; delays and refused bookings are causing a lot of dissatisfaction with cargo owners, end-users and businesses affected, who also knock at the ports' door to complain and are looking to hold someone accountable.
Over the last year, ports in Europe have made their best efforts, and successfully so, to stay open. Throughout the pandemic, they remained operational and have been playing a critical role in keeping the supply chains going and facilitating trade, even in the most difficult circumstances.
ESPO calls on all maritime stakeholders to keep the strategic role of maritime trade and ports in mind and do everything possible to increase predictable and stable operations, to restore schedule reliability and fluidity of trade. As engines of recovery, Europe’s ports believe that no cargo owners should be left behind.
In addition, ESPO stresses the overall importance of reliability in the supply chain. Europe’s ports are making major efforts to improve their port planning but any planning stands or falls with the predictability of ship and cargo arrivals and departures in ports.
Port of Barcelona (Spain), (c) Ramon Vilalta
European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) press release