Asian goods imports: problems for Christmas retail increasingly likely

Shipping Asian goods imports: problems for Christmas retail increasingly likely

Published on 10.09.2021 by Markus Peter, organizer of Connecta, Post CH Ltd

Chinese ports are still partly closed due to the pandemic, causing delays in the handling of container ships. This could have an impact on trade in Europe.

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, cargo volumes in the Red Sea – the most important sea trade route between China and Europe – are currently 20 percent lower than would be expected under normal circumstances, as a result of closed ports and terminals and long waiting times for free handling capacity.

At the Yantian International Container Terminal alone, one of the largest container ports, 40 container ships are currently anchored outside the terminal, waiting for clearance. This congestion has also meant that container prices have risen steeply. Prices are currently around 10,000–11,000 US dollars for a 40-foot container.

The Kiel Trade Indicator estimates the trade flows (imports and exports) of 75 countries worldwide, based on the evaluation of real-time ship movement data. The colour world map shows the expected increase (shades of green) or decrease (shades of red) in trade for the different countries. Clicking on a country opens a graph depicting the details. A country’s trade flows with the rest of the world are estimated. The Kiel Trade Indicator is updated on the 3rd and 20th of each month. Source: Kiel Trade Indicator

Another bottleneck is the Suez Canal, where container ships are also being held up. The only alternative is a detour, which in turn entails delays and additional costs.

According to Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen in an interview with, no significant upturn is expected before 2022.


CNBC: What’s Causing The Container Ship Traffic Jam Clogging Up Global Trade


Christmas retail: higher prices and a shortage of products

If trade in goods with China does not quickly return to normal, the crisis threatens to make itself felt in Christmas retail, with a shortage of products and higher prices.


Due to the current situation, Connecta Bern will again be held as a digital event in 2021. Connecta is renowned for shining a light on the diverse nature of digitization and this year will be no different with content presented across the three formats of Connecta Blog, Connecta TV and Connecta Talk. Find out more here:


Markus Peter, Organizer, Connecta, Post CH Ltd

Markus Peter is responsible for organizing Connecta Bern, the annual digital festival held by Swiss Post and PostFinance. He also lectures at a number of universities of applied sciences.

Portrait Markus Peter

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