UNCTAD - Container shipping in times of COVID-19: Why freight rates have surged and implications for policy makers

19 April 2021 |

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, expectations were that seaborne trade, including containerized trade, would experience a strong downturn. However, changes in consumption and shopping patterns triggered by the pandemic, including a surge in electronic commerce, as well as lockdown measures, have in fact led to increased import demand for manufactured consumer goods, a large part of which is moved in shipping containers.

As at the third quarter of 2020, lessening of lockdown measures and varying speeds of recovery worldwide, as well as stimulus packages supporting consumer demand, inventory-building and frontloading in anticipation of new waves of the pandemic, contributed to leading to a further increase in containerized trade flows.

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