Turkish exporters on Tuesday called for the establishment of a local fleet of shipping containers amid a severe vessel crunch around the world, which prompted prices to soar and hampered the orders of goods.
The container freight shipping has been steaming ahead through the coronavirus pandemic, boosted by strong demand. But a shortage of vessels has led to a squeeze on shipping containers and has pushed up costs to unprecedented highs recently.
Sector representatives selling goods from Turkey have been voicing concerns over the soaring prices and the lack of containers.
Stressed that the pandemic has hit the logistics network hard, Black Sea Exporters Association (DKIB) Deputy Chairperson Ahmet Hamdi Gürdoğan said the biggest support for exporters will be the creation of a national container transport fleet.
“Exporters are still having serious difficulties in finding free containers to deliver necessary goods to their customers,” Gürdoğan said in a statement.
And the shipping costs of the available containers has skyrocketed threefold, he warned.
“Problems in the logistics network, such as the inability to find containers, the height of transport fees, the lack of a road transit certificate and the lack of balanced distribution, negatively affect our exports and prevent us from reaching the targeted export levels,” Gürdoğan noted.
Achieving Turkey’s export goals will be possible by establishing a national container shipping fleet and taking part in the international transport network, he said.
Despite the pandemic, Turkish exports went on to hit an all-time monthly high for the third straight month in February.
Sales surged 9.6% year-on-year to over $16 billion (TL 132 billion) in the month, according to Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM) data. Exports in January and December surpassed $15 billion and $17.84 billion, respectively.
The country looks to achieve a year-end target of $184 billion, up from $169.5 billion in 2020.
Pioneers in the international shipping network, the U.S. and China have been primarily allocating containers to their exporters, the DKIB head stressed, turning the negativity caused by the pandemic into an opportunity and dominating the global markets.
Gürdoğan stressed that the pandemic offers multiple opportunities for Turkey and that many of the buyers in the global supply chain are preferring the country.
Yet, even though many global companies have directed their purchases to Turkey, exporters are unable to take advantage of these opportunities as they cannot find a container to send their goods, Gürdoğan noted.
He also said some are unable to export goods with a vehicle with Turkish plates due to the lack of transportation certificate, while also complaining about surging costs that disrupt competition.
In addition to the national container fleet, exporters also called for a rapid solution to the lack of transit documents in land export shipments through effective diplomatic negotiations.
Gürdoğan stated that many actors have expressed that intensive protectionist measures will be implemented in international trade in the next period and that many countries have already started infrastructure investments with regards to expected developments of this kind.
“However, although we have set a long-term export target of $500 billion, the numbers could remain as just targets as we are still trying to deal with problems such as transition documents or not finding empty containers,” he noted.
In addition, Gürdoğan suggested that Turkey should also make port investments in potential export market countries and strengthen logistics infrastructure by building ports connected to rail and road networks “that will serve as logistics centers in certain countries such as Russia.”