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This update – the 99th of its kind – contains a consolidated overview of the South African supply chain and the current state of international trade. Port operations this past week were typified by equipment breakdowns, congestion, network-related issues, and a lengthy power outage in Richards Bay. TFR still hasn’t provided an estimated return time on the second line of the container corridor after the derailment, and they were also subject to cable theft this week. The helicopter in Richards Bay executed night shift operations this week, while the Department of Health issued a memorandum stating that Port Health Services intend to relax COVID-19 screening protocols from this week onwards.

On the international shipping side, global container throughput (albeit slightly) and scheduling reliability continue to improve as spot rates continue to fall. These developments further suggest that demand has peaked, and the financial boom of the carriers is set to end. Against the backdrop of softer demand and container spot rates declining, contract re-negotiations have accelerated. Further developments of note included (1) the Chinese government launching a clampdown on arbitrary charges, (2) a new FMC enforcement bureau created to police the USA’S new shipping Act, (3) China’s military drills encircling Taiwan, forcing over 200 vessels to reroute – trade largely unaffected, (4) first sailing out of the Port of Odesa, and (5) SA initiates first WTO dispute complaint challenging EU citrus fruit measures.

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