Logistics costs see unprecedented rise due to lack of empty containers

The Import and Export Sub-Department, has received complaints from businesses and business groups about a shortage of containers that has led to an unprecedented increase in shipping tariffs, its deputy director Tran Thanh Hai has said.

The cost of transporting a container to EU countries now is around US$10,000 as against a normal rate of US$1,500-1,800, he said.

The COVID-19 epidemic means EU countries and the US buy goods from East Asia but cannot return empty containers because of border closures, he explained.

Nguyen Dinh Tung, chairman and general director of fruit exporter Vina T&T Group, said there was a shortage of containers for shipping dry goods while the cost of shipping to the US has increased by nearly three times since last year.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, general secretary of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, said the lack of containers was because exports have been booming and ship crews taking them are quarantined on reaching foreign ports.

The Vietnam Logistics Business Association said part of the cause is that Vietnam is a trade surplus country. In the third quarter exports increased by 11% year-on-year, it said.

Besides, due to the weather, the transportation of empty containers back from the US, Japan and China has been difficult, it said.

The container scarcity usually peaks at the end of the year, and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation, it said.

To overcome the above situation, Vietnam Logistics Business Association depots should be tasked with repairing empty containers to reduce the waiting time for them, and ships should work closer with depots and accurately notify their empty containers situation, experts said.

Consignors needed to make use of containers efficiently and quickly so that they could be used by others, it added.