COVID-19 Will Leave a Lasting Mark on the Shipping Industry

Greg Priddy
Director, Global Energy and Middle East, Stratfor
May 5, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Containers sit stacked on a cargo ship berthed at China’s Zhoushan Port on Feb. 4, 2020.

Containers sit stacked on a cargo ship berthed at China’s Zhoushan Port on Feb. 4, 2020. China’s COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent closing of factories caused outbound shipping from the country to drop significantly at the beginning of the year.

(Yao Feng/VCG via Getty Images)

By sapping global economic growth and emboldening nationalist calls against globalization, the COVID-19 crisis risks upending the past 30 years of rising intercontinental trade volumes. Countries have implemented various new shipping restrictions to contain the virus, though pandemic-induced declines in demand have so far prevented severe disruptions. But with the global recession likely to extend well into 2021, the long-term loss of business -- exacerbated by a surge in U.S.-China trade tensions and security concerns over global supply chains -- could cripple the shipping industry for years to come. In the meantime, the oversupply of container shipping capacity will force companies around the world to consolidate as their governments increasingly opt for more protectionist policies....

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