On 16th February Asian families and friends welcomed the Chinese New Year with fireworks, feasting and red envelopes.
It’s the Year of the Dog, where intelligence, being straight-forward and a strong sense of responsibility are rewarded.
We must remember though that every year, Chinese New Year plays havoc with international trade of every product moving in or out of Asia, with container rates skyrocketing and space becoming tight as the date approaches.
Asia, and especially China, are the major supply source for most retail items. The infrastructure is geared to move products to the port cities quickly and efficiently, then load onto the container shipping schedules, and then to their destinations in retail, industrial and wholesale markets in virtually every country of the world.
Chinese New Year is a family holiday, and the workers who often come from the poor middle provinces go back to visit their families. Many of them can only afford to travel by bus or train and can only afford it once a year so they typically take 2-3 week holidays. The result is loss of production in that three-week span.
So what can be done by the importer to avoid the higher shipping rates and interrupted shipments?
It is an issue of accurately scheduling your purchasing, talking with your suppliers and carriers, and knowing what you need in your warehouses in the month before and 6-7 weeks after Chinese New Year.
* When will your supplier stop shipping? And when will these goods actually arrive at the port?
* Rates rise and cargo tends to get left at the docks, so double-check with your freight forwarder to ensure your rates are locked-in and your cargo gets loaded on board.
* What is your carrier’s last date to receive and load containers? When will these boxes arrive where you need them? Post-New Year:
* Will your supplier ship anything to the port for delivery to the carrier’s first vessel outbound?
* If not, when will they resume production?
* When will they resume shipping to the ports?
* When will they next have goods at the port for you?
* Do you need to factor any export-side inspections? If so, get it scheduled prior to the holiday.
* Any degradation issues if your goods sit in an Asian export warehouse? Taking these factors into consideration will help you plan for a 5-8 week gap when no goods are arriving.
Kung Hay Fat Choy!