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China’s Shipping Nears a Standstill Amid Coronavirus Disruption

Shipping volumes out of China are plummeting as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak takes a deeper toll on industrial production, and ocean carriers are bracing for financial blows from the diminished output.

“Substantially less cargo is being moved between China and the rest of the world” said Lars Jensen, head of Denmark-based maritime research group Sea-Intelligence. “Last week we had an additional 30 sailings canceled, with 23 across the Pacific and the rest to Europe.”

A Shanghai broker said at least one container ship that can move more than 20,000 containers left Shanghai for Northern Europe with only 2,000 full containers.

“It will pick up more at ports on its way, but loading data show it will reach Europe around 35% full,” this broker said. “That’s unprecedented, and a lot of money is being lost because it doesn’t even cover the fuel cost.”

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