The global supply chain is expected to be further disrupted due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities as the country faces its worst outbreak of the virus since early 2020, Ship Lilly reported.

Any major port lockdown in China is likely to have significant negative effects on the global supply situation, according to the 16 March report.

China is doubling down on its “dynamic zero-COVID strategy” of lockdowns following a single reported case in an area, which is adding to the country’s problems as industry was still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, including staff absences and disruptions, the report said.

Officials in Beijing and a growing list of cities and provinces say that the virus is still spreading and that the government must take increasingly tougher measures to stop it, according to a New York Times report on 15 March.

For some foreign investors, the outbreak itself might be less unnerving than the unpredictability of government measures, the report said.

“The business risk in China now is higher than at any time since late spring 2020,” Julian MacCormac, chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in China, was quoted as saying.

Against this backdrop, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February had led to a quasi-embargo of cargo, Ship Lilly wrote.

With China being one of the world’s top exporters of merchandise, previous additional lockdowns in the country had brought the global supply chain to a standstill, the Shipping Lily report said. Effects to date included rapid increases in freight costs and an acute shortage of shipping space.

Ships were facing delays of at least 12 hours in ports such as Shenzhen’s Yantian port and Shanghai and might soon have to wait for as long as two weeks, the New York Times quoted Julie Gerdeman, chief executive of supply chain analysis company Everstream Analytics, as saying.

“Even the most prepared businesses will be impacted by these new lockdowns in China, as flexibility within the supply chain is minimal,” she said.

With 19 out of a total of 31 mainland provinces in China reporting local infections at the time of writing, the shipping industry should expect further problems, Shipping Lily wrote.