Sea freight news – Post date: December 15th, 2020.


Ports situation

Despite the rebound of the pandemic in Europe, all European ports remain 100% operational, but there are some operational changes as a good part of the jobs are performed remotely. See the different European port situations for Antwerp, Rotterdam, Le Havre, Hamburg, Marseille and Algeciras. The price of shipping has also increased. There is a lack of containers which is complicating the flow of merchandise, especially from China, but also in the USA and Europe.


The lack of an agreement between Europe and the UK is also affecting shipping, especially between the ports of France and the UK less than 2 weeks before the definitive exit from the customs union with the EU. This has also caused a rush in the flow of merchandise from Europe to the UK before eventual taxes and custom clearance enter into force, causing massive delays in some ports. Experts suggest that this may cause a shortage of some food products. At least 14 African countries have already concluded a trade agreement with the UK, which will enter into force on 1 January. Thirty-five other African countries will benefit from preferential access to the UK through its Generalised Scheme of Preferences.

Africa’s top 10

Africa Logistics Magazine has listed its top 10 ports in Africa: 1. Durban, South Africa; 2. Tangier, Morocco; 3. Mombasa, Kenya; 4. Djibouti, Djibouti; 5. Lagos, Nigeria; 6. Cotonou, Benin; 7. Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; 8.Tema, Ghana; 9. Dakar, Senegal; 10. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


It is of paramount importance to check the transit time when selecting the best way to transport your horticultural products by sea.

In order to check specific routes please check with Maersk, CMA CGM and MSC for vessel availability. Maersk also publishes Ocean Service Adjustments which includes a list of cancelled sailings around the world, ordered by continent.

Other advisories from Maersk concerning Africa:

2020 – a record year for rising price of global shipping

German newspaper Der Spiegel reports that global shipping prices were a nightmare in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shipping costs reached record heights in December. One of the worst victims of this situation is China, as shipping costs between China and Europe have suddenly skyrocketed (Fresh Plaza, 14 December).

Côte d’Ivoire: logistics platform for marketing fruit and vegetables in port of Abidjan

The autonomous port of Abidjan should soon be equipped with a logistics platform for the marketing of fruit and vegetables. The project, supported by the partner port of Tangier in Morocco, aims to boost trade between the two countries. It includes investments in the construction of temperature- and atmosphere-controlled logistics warehouses, as well as exhibition and marketing spaces (Africa Logistics Magazine, 12 December).

Ports gridlocked, retailers struggling as Brexit deadline looms

The UK Government is facing growing pressure to take action at the country’s gridlocked container ports, as the looming Brexit deadline is also resulting in thousands of extra truckloads of goods heading to the channel ports in France, causing delays and traffic queues (Fresh Plaza, 11 December).

Senegal joins World Logistics Passport as hub for Africa

Senegal has joined the World Logistics Passport, a major initiative by Dubai to link nations around the world and increase South–South trade. Senegal is the second country to formally join the scheme after Colombia. The World Logistics Passport has been created to overcome trade impediments, such as logistics inefficiency, that currently limit the growth of trade between developing markets. South–South trade is already worth an estimated $4.28 trillion annually, more than half of total developing countries’ exports in 2018, according to the World Trade Organization (Logistics Update Africa, 27 November).

USA facilitates two-way trade for South African citrus

The United States will open up new ports for the import for citrus produce from South Africa, which will facilitate two-way trade for both sides. The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service approved the use of several extra ports for South African citrus producers (Fructidor, 3 December).

More box ships skip UK hub ports and forwarders urge EC to intervene

As carriers continue to leave import containers stranded at North European ports and charge exporters more than $5,000 to ship a box to Asia, pressure is growing for regulatory intervention. And UK importers today face major challenges from the decision by Ocean Alliance members to divert five more vessels from Felixstowe to Zeebrugge in December (The Loadstar, 30 November).

Positive trend for maritime container transport

Following months of reduced trade due to the health crisis, encouraging signs are appearing as the global volume of containers increased by 6.9% in September, compared with 2019. According to Container Trade Statistics (CTS), shipping companies moved 14.72 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) around the world in September this year, compared with 13.76 million TEU the same month in 2019: an increase of 6.9% (Fructidor, 18 November).

Port of Antwerp: PIN codes replaced by new digital solution

Today, to pick up a container at a terminal in the port of Antwerp, a unique PIN code is needed, which takes time and involves security risks. To make this process more secure and efficient, a new container-release process, “Certified Pick-up” (CPu), will be enforced from 1 January 2021. CPu is a neutral, central data platform that connects all stakeholders involved in the container import process (Fructidor, 13 November).

Global portal for Samskip Logistics’ freight forwarders

Samskip Logistics, a global logistics company, has launched a new global portal, “mySamskipLogistics”, for freight-forwarding customers. The new portal allows customers to place freight bookings shipments online, and access track-and-trace information for all shipments they enter (Fructidor, 10 November).


The International Trade Exhibition for Perishables & Logistics Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Markets, originally scheduled for November 2020, has been delayed to 1–3 April 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions. The event will take place at Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo, and will gather fresh producers, agents, suppliers, wholesalers and other industry professionals from all over the world (Fructidor, 10 November).

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