Container transport to Russia partially comes to a standstill: ‘Increasingly isolated’

Container transport to Russia partially comes to a standstill: ‘Increasingly isolated’

The Danish Maersk and the Swiss-Italian MSC follow Hapag-Lloyd from Germany and ONEs from Singapore.

The decision is sure to have an impact, as MSC and Maersk are the two largest container shipping players in the world. Together with Hapag-Lloyd and ONE, the four shipping companies account for almost half of all containers transported worldwide.

“Russia isolates itself”

Maersk does not completely stop all transports to Russia. Food, medicine and humanitarian goods will be shipped to Russia in containers.

Despite this, Russia is becoming increasingly isolated, says Albert Jan Swart, economist Industry, Transport and Logistics at ABN Amro.

“Prepare the Punishments”

Swart finds it remarkable that shipping companies are now taking such action. They foresee possible sanctions, he thinks.

Not all products can be exported to Russia anymore, but many products are not covered by the current sanctions. In 2020, the main product group that the Netherlands exported to Russia was pharmaceuticals and pharmaceuticals. These exports are unlikely to be affected yet.

The Netherlands also exported electrical appliances and trucks to Russia last year.

Maersk ‘deeply concerned’

A Maersk spokesman said the group was “deeply concerned about the escalating crisis in Ukraine”. For employees it also means stability and security. He also did not say whether this meant Maersk was afraid of missiles in the Black Sea.

Maersk is not only located in Russia’s Black Sea ports, but also in St. It also sails to Baltic Sea ports such as St. Petersburg and Russian ports in the Far East such as Wladivostok. There is also no war.

Swart says that reputation and policy reasons can also play a role for shipowners.

According to Swart, trade with Russia will already become more difficult as payment becomes more difficult. Western countries want to remove some Russian banks from the global payment system Swift, but it is not yet clear which banks are on this list.

However, Swart says that it is in principle possible to make payments, but due to the capacity of banks, large payments, for example related to the gas supply, will be given priority.

Maersk stopped sailing to Ukrainian ports such as Odessa last week.

terminal ambiguity

Meanwhile, there is uncertainty about penalties at container terminals where containers are loaded or unloaded onto a ship. Due to this lack of clarity, ECT announced yesterday that it would no longer unload containers on their way to Russia.

This weekend, customs have decided not to let all containers go to Russia anymore. This measure has been taken to prevent goods on the sanctions list from being sorted out at the last minute after the sanctions have been imposed.

Manual verification

According to customs spokesman Pieter ten Broeke, customs are now busy manually checking all containers for goods that cannot be exported to Russia. In total, this concerns about 6,000 containers,” he says.

Containers with fruits and vegetables are given priority, because otherwise they will spoil. They are still allowed to travel to Russia. Customs is hiring extra staff to clear the container stock quickly, but Ten Broeke cannot say when that will be successful.

There is no waiting for other containers to be added to be checked, as companies know what can and cannot be shipped to Russia. This is also apparent from the administrative part of the export to Russia, such as issuing an export declaration.

Source: RTL