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South Korean port operations disrupted by novel coronavirus


SHIPYARDS in South Korea are clogged with containers following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China, the nation's major trade partner.

At the same time, vessels bringing in imported goods to Korea from China have slowed, leaving customs inspection storage units nearly empty. Operations at ports and the shipping industry have been severely disrupted, with seaports and manufacturers shutting down in China.

Incheon Port Authority said late last week that the container storage yard utilisation ratio of four container terminals was at around 80 per cent, up 5 per cent from the average figure in recent days.

With measures taking place to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, many ports and manufacturers in China appear to have shut down operations, leading to a halt in freight transfers.

For the South Port Incheon Container Terminal, which can handle 20,858 TEU, 20,657 TEU were stored early last week, using 99 per cent of the storage yard. On the same day, the storage yard utilisation ratio for E1 Container Terminal in South Port, which can store 7,900 TEU, recorded 92.8 per cent. The ports are considered saturated when the ratio reaches 80 per cent.

To ease the congestion, the Incheon Port Authority said it will temporarily create two container storage spaces in Incheon New Port for 14,400 TEU and a space for 850 TEU in South Port, according to The Korea Herald.

According to maritime data provider Alphaliner, the coronavirus outbreak is likely to influence global trade this year, with the global ocean container volume expected to be reduced by about 0.7 per cent, or 6 million containers.

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