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US retail box ports take bigger hit from virus than originally expected


THE CORONAVIRUS outbreak is expected to have a longer and larger impact on imports at major US retail container ports than previously expected given that the factory shutdowns and travel restrictions in China continue to affect production, the National Retail Federation warns.

"There are still a lot of unknowns to fully determine the impact of the coronavirus on the supply chain," said NRF vice president for supply chain Jonathan Gold in a press release.

Although factories in China are returning to production, various issues continue to affect cargo movement, such as the availability of truck drivers to move cargo to Chinese ports, Mr Gold said, reported Progressive Railroading.

"Now that we are in the coronavirus environment, uncertainty has expanded exponentially," said Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett, who produces the monthly Global Port Tracker report for the NRF. "Our projections are based on the optimistic view that by the end of March or early April some sort of normalcy will have returned to trade."

Forty per cent of respondents to a recent NRF survey indicated they're seeing disruptions to their supply chains as a result of the virus. Another 26 per cent expect disruptions as the virus continues to spread.

Meanwhile, US ports covered by the Global Port Tracker handled 1.82 million TEU in January, a 5.7 per cent increase from December but down 3.8 per cent from unusually high numbers a year ago related to US tariffs on goods from China. February was estimated at 1.42 million TEU, down 12.6 per cent from last year. March is forecast at 1.32 million TEU, down 18.3 per cent.

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