UK Government Minister for Exports, Graham Stuart MP, has responded to calls for an investigation into competition within the shipping industry.
Leading overseas removals specialist, John Mason International, raised concerns over soaring container costs over recent months – siting a perfect storm of Brexit, the pandemic and the Suez Canal incident as the stimulant for the current critical situation.
Now Graham Stuart MP from the Department for International Trade (DIT) has joined the debate.
“Currently the industry is experiencing a ‘container surge’, believed to have resulted from the change in pandemic, consumer spending, and a higher demand for goods,” said Mr Stuart. “The increased pressure on demand has caused port and shipping container capacity to stretch globally.
“Shipping lines’ container vessels are at high levels of capacity use, as is a global shipping fleet deployment – but shipping demand is outstripping supply.”
Mr Stuart acknowledged the commercial market is seeing significant price rises on an international level for container freight. And now the situation has worsened due to events in China.
“The previous effects on shipping costs have been compounded by the recent outbreak of coronavirus in Guangdong Province, which is a critical area in the global supply chain,” he added. “With high global demand predicted to increase throughout 2021, and driving operational and pricing tensions in the market vessel capacity, this will ultimately influence cost.
“The (UK) Government will continue to monitor the impacts of shipping costs – and the Department for Transport (DfT) and DIT have been engaging closely with both ports and shipping lines to monitor the operational impacts, and to ensure the industry is doing all it can to mitigate the impacts on the UK.”
Simon Hood, director at John Mason International, is encouraged by the response – and is urging the Government to continue its efforts to minimise disruption caused by the shipping crisis.
“At John Mason International, we oversee thousands of relocations each year to the likes of Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada, and we are well-versed in managing the challenging logistics involved,” he said. “Shipping personal items to car flung corners of the globe is a critical aspect of an international move – so we rely heavily on access to containers at reasonable cost to us and our customers.
“We have been alarmed by the soaring cost of shipping freight – with shipping a standard 40ft container from East Asia to Europe now costing $13,000, when it would have been $2,000 just 18 months ago.
“I am pleased that Minister for Exports, Graham Stuart MP, is tracking this issue – and that the Government is monitoring the impact the current situation is having on many businesses across the UK.
“We are doing all we can to ensure those wishing to move abroad can do so with minimal disruption. Due to the current shipping issues, the costs are higher – but we are not profiting from these rises.
‘On behalf of our customers, we at John Mason International will continue to lobby the Government and other relevant bodies, in a bid to help bring an end to this global crisis.”