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Why has the cost of global shipping risen so dramatically this year?

Containers are seen transported at Ningbo-Zhoushan port in August Source: Visual China Group

It all comes down to a lack of empty containers, or rather, too many empty containers where they’re not needed and too few where they are.

As supply chains around the world battle with the impact of the pandemic, the cost of global shipping has risen dramatically this year. It has led to frustrating delays for businesses struggling to meet consumer demand, but also to an estimated 150 billion dollars of profits for shipping companies in 2021.

Container deliveries used to be incredibly reliable. But this year, he says, has been different:

"95 per cent  of them have been delayed by at least a week. And then the huge price increases that we've had to face as well. Now that's extra."

COVID shutdowns and delays have put global supply chains out of kilter.

"At one of the way points of the world, queues of ships stretch as far as the eye can see. And this is the problem - the bow of a 220,000 tonne container ship, stuck at the side of the waterway."

Michelle Wiese Bockman is the markets editor of the shipping journal Lloyd's list. She says  the cost of sending shipping containers by sea has risen dramatically.

"It has absolutely gone crazy this year. So if you're looking at short term freight rates from Asia to Europe, you're looking at a 366 per cent increase."

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