After two years of upheaval caused by the Covid pandemic, global supply chains had only just started to recover when the Ukraine crisis hit. Further disruptions as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine have already caused many international companies to cease operations in Russia and could cause many more to re-evaluate and potentially adjust their supply chains globally.
Due to the Covid-related uncertainties in container shipping last year, many logistics operators turned to rail transport as an alternative freight option for the Asia-Europe trade routes: In 2021, rail operators ran more than 1,200 freight trains per month between China and Europe, transporting almost 1.5 million containers. Many of these trade routes from China transit through Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus on their way to Western European destinations.
The risks for such containerised rail freight have now become prohibitively high. Hence, traders are frantically searching for alternative routes, at a time when the containerised shipping sector continues to be strongly affected by port congestions and container shortages, resulting in extensive shipping delays and record-high freight rates. Against the backdrop of surging fuel prices and shipping routes being cancelled or diverted, it appears almost certain that just about every global supply chain will be negatively impacted by this crisis, in one way or another.
The Port of Hamburg is not only the third-largest port in Europe but also the biggest rail hub in the world. Every third ocean container arriving in Hamburg originates in China, making Hamburg a key player in the supply chains.
In this panel discussion organised by the German Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong, guests from the logistics and transportation sectors, we will discuss the impact of these complex challenges on global supply chains, as well as possible ways for companies to adapt.