So when are things likely to return to normal? It’s hard to say - and possibly out of our control.
Estimates of when global shipping routes and costs will return to ‘normal’ keep getting pushed out, but we believe the chaos is likely to continue well into next year.
The Covid-19 pandemic pushed up demand for goods, and pushed down demand for services like travel, with people opting for a new lounge suite over their now-unfeasible holiday.
A lot of that demand isn’t even coming from New Zealand, but from large countries like the USA, so New Zealand has limited control over getting things back to ‘normal’.
A meaningful drop in demand would be needed before the tangle starts to be sorted out, and we also need to see ports operating more efficiently.
Consumers across the world would need to be more prudent with their spending, or travel and services spending needs to jump back up, which will likely drop the amount of spending on goods that need shipping.
Shipping companies are also making abnormally high returns at the moment, and are flat out to boot, so they really have no incentive to reduce prices to gain market share – they have as much business as they want.
On top of this, global trade is forecast to lift 8% in 2021, and a further 6% in 2022, which suggests there won’t be a let-up in demand for shipping any time soon.
In the meantime, vaccinating all port staff against COVID-19 will help eliminate some of the risk of further port shutdowns – not just here, but across the globe.
This article first appeared on Stuff.co.nz