Major Slowdown at Chinese Ports Could Impact Global Trade

Chinese testing of meat, seafood, and other products for the coronavirus has tripled customs clearance times at some major Chinese ports. Bloomberg says the intensive testing is raising some major concerns that the delays could eventually tangle up global trade flows. It normally takes about three days to clear produce through customs, but an official with a supply chain company says it’s now taking up to 10 days.

China began testing cold food shipments for the virus last month in a move it says is aimed at protecting the health of the general public. The testing has combined with large arrivals of cold-storage food to add to the congestion at some of its biggest ports. China had been boosting meat imports in a bid to offset domestic shortages after the African Swine Fever outbreak that decimated the country’s pork herds.

Meat and offal shipments surged to almost 900,000 tons in June, 75% higher than at the same time in 2019. Beijing says the new measures are helping to control the spread of the virus and will help stop another potential outbreak. Though China still needs more meat, the testing may cause exporters to slow sales to the Asian country because of the potential to get caught up in the testing process.

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