The National Retail Federation (NRF)’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold pointed out that only 12% of US-bound cargo passes through the Suez Canal, but added “the situation is bringing volatility and uncertainty that are being felt around the globe”.

He stressed the importance of international cooperation to ensure the safety of vessels and crews, underscoring the potential consequences of prolonged disruptions on global supply chains.

Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett highlighted the shipping industry’s swift adaptation to the challenges, noting the use of surplus capacity built up during the pandemic to redirect voyages around the Cape of Good Hope or towards the US West Coast.

He said: “The shipping industry has rapidly adjusted by adding extra vessels to its networks, and has returned to normal weekly ship arrivals.

“Service from Asia to the US East Coast is working well and the dramatic rise in freight rates is showing signs of easing, with pressure from shippers likely to quickly bring these down.”

Global Port Tracker’s latest data

  • US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.87m Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in December, marking an 8.3% increase year over year
  • Despite a 1% decrease from November, December’s figures contributed to a total of 22.3m TEU in 2023, representing a 12.8% decrease from the previous year
  • While January’s numbers are yet to be reported, projections indicate a marginal year-over-year increase of 0.3% to 1.81m TEU
  • February is expected to see a substantial rise of 20.4% to 1.86m TEU
  • March is expected to follow suit at 1.71m TEU, up 5.5% from the previous year
  • The forecast for April stands at 1.83m TEU, reflecting a 2.6% increase
  • May and June are projected to reach 1.94m TEU and 1.93m TEU respectively.

These projections would culminate in a robust first half of 2024, with an anticipated total of 11.1m TEU, marking a 5.3% increase from the same period last year.

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By GlobalData

Last week (9 February), the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the International Apparel Federation (IAF) issued a joint letter with over 100 signatories calling for greater government support in ensuring the safety and accessibility of shipping routes after the Red Sea disruptions began weighing on supply chains.