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This update – the 96th of its kind – contains a consolidated overview of the South African supply chain and the current state of international trade. Newly reported COVID-19 infections increased slightly this week, averaging approximately 489 per day (↑22% against last week’s average of 399). South Africa is approaching 4 million positive cases, with the death toll up to 101 915 this week (up by 47). Globally, the case tally stands at 561 million infected by COVID-19, with 6,37 million deaths recorded. Around 12,2 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally , with South Africa now at 37 million.

Port operations this past week were mainly impacted by general issues relating to load-shedding, weather delays, and equipment shortages. Our commercial ports were not generally busy or congested; however, equipment availability remains an issue. The Eastern Cape ports are still making alternative plans to soften the blow of load-shedding, having little or no generator backup, while Durban port’s helicopter is still out of action due to a fuel shortage. In addition, weather conditions and their accompanying side effects caused several delays, with the most notable example being approximately ten hours lost in Cape Town this week due to vessel ranging. In the Eastern Cape, port operations continued as per normal, except for TFR, as a derailment was reported during the week. Consequently, rail services were halted for three days at the end of the week and were expected to reopen on Sunday.

On the international shipping side, the entire landscape of global trade continues to change. The change can be seen with an increase in equipment supply being offset by poorer productivity (due to current port performance) and a change in regulations. This reality follows from last week’s comments, with container fleets increasing by ↑1,7% in H1 this year, to around 25,5 million TEU. Nevertheless, despite the collective growth of carrier fleets and equipment, container throughput levels have levelled off, as the industry is at similar levels to those seen in September 2020 . There has been a slight increase for Sub-Saharan Africa lately, but numbers are still down on pre-pandemic levels. Incidentally, South Africa remains the dominant player in the region, accounting for more than a quarter of the imports (25,4%) and nearly half of all the exports (49,9%).

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