A new report is blaming North American seaports for a growing global shortage of shipping containers.

New analysis from Danish consultancy Sea-Intelligence indicates the slow turnaround time is causing a massive imbalance – the containers just aren’t being returned to Europe and, especially, Asia in an acceptable time frame.

North America has been historically slower, but the delays are becoming worse.

According to the Sea-Intelligence report: “The imbalance problem now needs to be rectified through North America – which at the same time is the place with the worst port congestion problems, which slows down efforts to repatriate containers.”

North America had been responsible – before the pandemic — for 40-45% of the empty imbalance needed in Asia, but now the number reaches 55-60% of the imbalance in Asia.

At this year’s virtual TPM conference – the world’s largest container shipping gathering – strong opinions included North American workers don’t work enough, and the ports need increased financial resources directed their way.

  • Jeremy Nixon, the CEO of Japanese liner Ocean Network Express (ONE), spotlighted poor terminal productivity in North America, which, he said, trails Asian counterparts by up to 50% because of fewer working hours.
  • Vincent Clerc, the CEO of A.P. Moller-Maersk Ocean & Logistics, the world’s largest containerline, said the underinvestment along the coastline of North America was a critical part of today’s backed-up box crisis.

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission is seeking answers for the supply-chain situation that has grown over the past eight months.

Something had better be done quickly. In a Splash247.com story, the numbers are startling.

“Latest data from PIERS, which tracks US imports and exports, shows container volumes from Asia to the US grew 90% in March compared to March 2020. Even when comparing March 2021’s figure to the pre-pandemic March 2019, the volume growth is up by a record 57%.”

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