One in five containers leaving the Port of Montreal is empty

The number of empty containers leaving the Port of Montreal has doubled in a year due to the dire shortage of containers in Asia. At present, 20% of the containers that are loaded on ships leaving from the metropolis have nothing inside.

Because if the ships rush to the docks of Montreal to unload – the import volume has increased by 36% in one year, and the processing time remains higher than the norm -, they leave for the Atlantic less loaded than normal, recalled in an interview Daniel Dagenais, vice-president of operations at the Port of Montreal.

“On export, what we see is a massive evacuation of empty containers, because there is an imbalance on a planetary scale,” notes Mr. Dagenais.

In August, the number of empty containers on board ships heading for Asia represented 21% of the 148,315 containers handled. Normally, the share of empty containers does not exceed 10%. Their number hovers around 15,000, while it currently exceeds 31,100.

The pressure to return containers to Asia is indeed very real, notes Sylvain Champoux, president of SECAM International, customs broker. Already, companies are preparing the logistics of imports of orders scheduled for spring, or even next summer.

Because the scarcity of containers in Asia is generalized, he indicates. It is this, along with delays in the supply chain, that are driving prices up. For a 21e Weekly streak in a row, the cost of transporting containers soared last week, this time by 1% globally, to the equivalent of nearly US $ 100. The World Container index – a barometer of international container prices – has jumped 309% in one year.

In an internal SECAM analysis sent to To have to, we see that the main shipping line companies – ONE, COSCO, Groupe CME, MSC or Hapag-Lloyd – all have a shortage of containers in the main ports of Asia, both for 40 feet and 20 feet.

To finance the repatriation of containers, shipping companies have set up what is called in the industry a “ empty equipment imbalance surcharge », A surcharge linked to the imbalance of empty equipment. This measure consists of adding charges during import, when the containers are full, to cover the costs associated with returning the equipment.

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