COVID-19 and rising shipping rates: What are the factors in play and what can be done?

Information Session


The strong rebound in global trade and the increased demand for consumer durable goods have put the global shipping system under stress. In particular, a sustained surge in demand for shipping containers from East-Asia combined with no slack capacity in container ships has sharply increased shipping costs. Although this recent surge in shipping costs appears to be more due to strong demand for traded goods than to supply constraints, operational disruptions, including pandemic-related shutdowns of major ports as well as other disruptions have put logistic systems under further stress and increased trade costs uncertainty. In this context, importers and exporters from many developing countries are currently facing huge challenges in shipping their products, which are eroding their competitiveness in trade. Small and medium enterprises are particularly affected given their weak financial status.

This information session is organized to share information on Members' constraints in importing and exporting goods due to current shipping disruptions and exchanging views on measures to mitigate the impact of those disruptions.

15:00 – 15:10

Opening remarks

  • Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
  • The Honourable Alan Ganoo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Republic of Mauritius

15:10 – 15:30

Factual presentation

Overview of maritime supply chain bottlenecks and latest statistics on trade flows and transport costs

  • Ms Ruosi Zhang, Counsellor, Trade in Services and Investment Division
  • Ms Barbara D'Andrea Adrian, Senior Statistician, Economic Research and Statistics Division

15:30 – 17:00

Panel discussion


  • DDG Anabel González

The discussion will address the following questions:

  • How transport and trade costs are being affected by shipping rate hikes?
  • What are the impacts of the steep rise in shipping rate on traders, in particular on SMEs?
  • What are the factors that cause the surge of shipping rates?
  • What kind of measures governments may take to mitigate the impact of rising shipping rates in the short term?
  • What can governments do to prevent similar problems in the future?


  • Mr. David Alvarado, Under Secretary for Foreign Trade and Economic Integration of Honduras
  • Mr. Vinay Guddye, Director Global Outreach, Economic Development Board of Mauritius
  • Mr. Enkhbat Dorjsuren, CEO, Mongolian Express LLC, Mongolia
  • Dr. Chaichan Chareonsuk, Chairman, Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC)
  • Mr. TAN Chong Meng, Group CEO, PSA International, Singapore
  • Dr. JIA Dashan, Vice-principal of Waterborne Transport Research Institute, Ministry of Transport, China
  • Dr. Phil Levy, Chief Economist, Flexport, United States
  • Mr. Rohan Beekhoo, Comptroller of Customs, Guyana Revenue Authority

17:00 – 17:20


17:20 – 17:30

Concluding remarks

  • DDG Anabel González



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