Statistics show that from January to July, my country's foreign trade continued to maintain a momentum of rapid growth. However, the situation of foreign trade companies is a bit sad. Recently, shipping prices have continued to rise. The container freight rates of some popular routes have exceeded US$20,000 per TEU, and the Shanghai Export Container Freight Index, which reflects the spot market price, has hit a new high. Exporting containers is "difficult to find", and some companies even fall into the dilemma of "containers are more expensive than goods", "dare to receive orders, and export is not profitable". Why is it difficult to ship by sea? How to relieve the troubles of foreign trade companies? The reporter conducted an investigation in Guangdong, a major foreign trade province.
Export pressure port
The large-scale quay crane equipment at the front of the terminal is constantly lifting containers, and the trailers in the yard are constantly shuttled...The busy scene at the terminals of Dongguan Port Group is the epitome of the booming export of "Made in Guangdong". According to statistics from the Guangdong Branch of the Customs, as of July, Guangdong's foreign trade imports and exports have been increasing for nine consecutive months; in the first seven months of this year, Guangdong's container exports increased by 4.6 times.
However, the strong international demand combined with the impact of the overseas new crown pneumonia epidemic has caused continuous "obstruction" in maritime logistics and higher freight rates.
"As exports have become prosperous, since the fourth quarter of last year, the shortage of containers and the difficulty of finding one cabin have appeared throughout southern China. In the first half of the year, affected by factors such as the Suez Canal congestion, the hub ports of European and American routes continued to be congested and international The situation of shortage in the container shipping market is even more obvious.” According to Zhuang Zhiyong, deputy general manager of the Dongguan branch of South China COSCO Shipping Container Lines Co., Ltd. (South China Container Lines), the contradiction between supply and demand is due to Demand for various products such as electrical appliances has increased, and cross-border e-commerce sales have soared. On the other hand, the spread of the epidemic has significantly reduced the efficiency of many ports, storage yards, and trailers around the world, resulting in port congestion and poor container turnover.
The reporter learned from many foreign trade companies that the "obstruction" transmitted from overseas and the accidental domestic epidemic have caused problems such as cargo pressure, ship skipping, and difficulty in returning containers in many ports in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in the past few months. , Large and small enterprises are plagued by the "difficulty in shipment" and high cost of shipping.
The most affected are the processing trade companies that rely heavily on seaborne exports. "It's a headache! The orders received by the overseas headquarters are constantly being transferred. One-third of our printers and copiers are not shipped out. In the past two months, more than 100 containers have been backlogged." Kyocera Office Equipment Technology (Dongguan) Yuan Xiji, the person in charge of customs affairs of the company, told reporters that since the docks in Yantian and Shekou, Shenzhen are already full of containers, long queues have also formed around the terminals. In the past, it only took one week for goods to leave the factory to ship, but now it takes nearly a month to arrive; After European and American ports, customers used to pick up goods within three or four days, but now they have to wait for several weeks.
In the face of the backlog of goods, the dilemma of processing trade companies is that they can only produce according to orders when they receive orders at their overseas headquarters. "If you are marketing yourself, you can temporarily suspend or reduce production, but we will do it when we receive the order, and we can't stop it." Yuan Xiji said that in order to cope with the predicament, the company had to choose a higher-priced China-Europe train, but it was not easy to order. , Can only solve 1/10 of the original ocean cargo volume, and for a small number of urgent customer needs can only be replaced by expensive air freight. "Although the freight is the customer's burden, it will eventually affect sales."
Mechanical and electrical products accounted for nearly 70% of Guangdong’s exports. Overseas orders from manufacturers are booming, but profits have been cut due to high freight costs. "The cost of the entire chain of marine logistics has skyrocketed." said Liu Qizhen, customs manager of Dongguan Chuang Mechanical and Electrical Products Co., Ltd., 70% of the company's exported power tools were sold to the United States, and orders increased by 30% in the first half of the year. However, due to the shortage of containers, only 80% of the products can enter the terminal. Those who cannot enter have to spend one or two million yuan to rent a warehouse to wait for the containers. The cost of land transportation to Shenzhen Yantian Wharf has increased by 30 to 40%. ; Shipping increased even more sharply. The original 40-foot container shipped to the United States was only more than 2,000 US dollars, but now it costs more than 10,000 US dollars. The bulk of the freight is borne by us. Fortunately, the added value of the product is high, and it will not be "the box is more expensive than the goods" situation.
Compared with the troubles of large companies, small and medium-sized enterprises feel the chill of life and death. An insider in the shipping industry told reporters that in the “hard to find one cabin” environment, large companies have the resources to get relatively more cabins from shipping companies, and they have the funds to withstand the rise in freight rates. Freight forwarders either cannot get the space or have to bear higher freight rates. South China Container Lines recently investigated small and medium-sized enterprises and found that some enterprises are facing the risk of production suspension due to the backlog of warehouses and delays in delivery.
In order to alleviate the plight of enterprises, since this year, Guangdong Customs, ports, shipping and other departments and enterprises have joined forces to implement precise measures against blockages in all links of the shipping chain, flexibly innovate models, and open up green channels, and do their utmost to alleviate the sluggish international shipping logistics. The adverse effects caused by the export of enterprises.
Inventory backlog is an urgent problem for foreign trade companies. For this reason, the customs department has launched the "factory out of warehouse" business for processing trade companies.
"Recently, the phenomenon of "explosion and dumping of containers" in seaborne exports has occurred from time to time. The waiting time has been significantly extended, and the company's inventory capacity is limited. Many processing trade companies can not meet the needs of the original customs filed locations. At this time, they can apply for "off-site" Set up warehouses, add external warehouses to store goods. As long as the application is submitted online, the customs will approve it immediately. "Thanks to Dongguan Customs for helping Kyocera set up a number of off-site warehouses, storing more than 100 TEUs of goods, which greatly eased the inventory pressure." Yuan Xiji told reporters.
Export "difficulty in booking space" is the most troublesome. The port and customs departments have joined forces to support the "going to sea" of cargo charter ships in the Greater Bay Area.
Recently, Dongguan Port officially opened chartered shipping routes to Europe and the United States, opening up the direct route for foreign trade companies in Dongguan to fly to Europe and the United States. "With the support of Shatian Customs, affiliated to Huangpu Customs, we have introduced chartered shipping routes in Europe and the United States, and can ship nearly 10,000 TEUs of goods per month." Sun Cheng, the head of relevant business of Dongguan Port Group, introduced. Compared with companies feeding goods to neighboring hub ports through Dongguan Port, the shipping costs of European and American charter routes can save US$3,000/container, and alleviate the lack of space. "Shatian Customs provides us with round-the-clock customs clearance services, processing ship customs clearance, sanitation and quarantine and other procedures at the first time, saving nearly a week, and saving US$1,500 per container." said Zeng Junhai, manager of Dongguan branch of Guangzhou Shipping Agency Company.
Port congestion has also caused export companies to find it difficult to withdraw their trailers and return containers and soaring land freight. Since June, Dongguan Port has joined forces with Guangzhou Nansha Port, Shenzhen Shekou Port and Yantian Port to launch a barge express service, replacing the original trailer with a barge to pick up and return containers. This will reduce logistics costs while ensuring that containers can smoothly catch up with large ships. At present, this service has effectively guaranteed the normal operation of the supply chains of many foreign trade companies such as Huawei, TCL, and VTech.
For small and medium-sized enterprises that desperately need to send charcoal in the snow, China COSCO Shipping Group and its subsidiary Huanan Container Line play the role of central enterprises and implement precise policies for small and medium-sized customer groups. "The company has formulated a plan for the supply of space on international container routes, and has made plans in advance for small and medium customers to lock the space. We have successively launched the'U.S. line small and medium customer service line, the European line small and medium customer special class, and the Australia-New Zealand boutique express service line. Waiting for the “one-stop” service of trailers and shipping, and created a new e-commerce dedicated line for small and medium customers." Zhuang Zhiyong introduced.
Practicing "internal strength" hard
It is difficult to predict when international shipping will return to normal, and foreign trade companies are still struggling to find good solutions to the challenges.
In this regard, South China Container Lines suggests that companies should strengthen the coordination of production and logistics, pay attention to the real-time dynamics of the shipping market, adjust the production rhythm according to the space situation, and reduce inventory backlogs as much as possible; at the same time, maintain close communication with shipping companies to resolve shipping collisions in a timely manner. To the question.
Industry insiders suggest that in view of the difficulty of alleviating the pressure on shipping costs in a short period of time, traditional foreign trade companies should promptly consider making new plans for future development. For example, a considerable part of the shipping companies belong to processing companies with imported materials. They have no pricing power or logistics power, and they cannot control the production and shipment cycle. In the current situation where offline traditional supply chain logistics is relatively sluggish, if you can try to create your own brand and open stores on cross-border e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, you can control supply chain logistics more flexibly.
Foreign trade companies with their own brands and channels have shown obvious advantages over traditional processing trade companies. Dongguan Chuang Mechanical and Electrical Industry, which has several own brands and a small amount of contract manufacturing, feels deeply about this. "We can only get a small processing fee for overseas brands. Under the pressure of cost, we can only try to maintain production. After all, a loss of 1 yuan is better than a loss of 10 yuan. But private brands have more profit margins, so you can earn more. , At least not at a loss." Liu Qizhen said.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic last year, more and more foreign trade companies have actively tried to transform. With their efforts to enhance their independent development capabilities and expand their living space, Guangdong's foreign trade risk resistance and development resilience are gradually improving. In 2020, general trade accounted for more than half of the total import and export value of Guangdong for the first time, occupying the dominant position; while the proportion of processing trade fell to 28.2%. In the first July of this year, Guangdong's general trade accounted for 52.5% of the total import and export value, and the foreign trade structure was further optimized.
Industry experts believe that the current new business of foreign trade represented by cross-border e-commerce is booming, providing new opportunities for foreign trade companies. The majority of foreign trade companies should seize the opportunity, practice their "internal strength", and reduce costs, increase the added value of their products, and enhance their ability to withstand international market storms through measures such as actively expanding brands and sales channels, enhancing R&D capabilities, and upgrading automation levels.