BCR is closely monitoring the developments and impacts of the COVID-19 virus globally. We’re committed to ensuring the health and safety of our employees locally, in China, and in all other global offices. As the situation continues to evolve daily, please find our latest update and any impact on BCR’s global operations.
- There has been no major change in China since our last update;
- Operation of BCR’s partners in their China offices continue to function as normal and the country’s export operations continue to improve and return to normal.
- Except for Wuhan and Beijing, all China offices now have all staff on duty in office.
- Beijing office – the same status as before, half of the staff is on duty in office, as restricted by the building, the remaining staff are working from home.
- Wuhan office – office location remains closed, staff continues to work from home, backup by Shanghai office.
- The Hubei provincial government is starting to allow the enterprises to gradually resume in the cities, except Wuhan, subject to the local municipal government’s guidelines. For Wuhan, the measure of resumption application is starting, but only some key enterprises are allowed to submit applications to resume, with approval only given after a check of all prevention control on-site by the authority.
- Hubei provincial government announced that previous holiday extension for Hubei province has ended today, with the exception of Wuhan City, where the holiday has been further extended through 19th March 2020.
- BCR strives to provide our customers with the latest updates on the operational status of all ports and terminals worldwide. We have also found that the global port operation information provided by North useful. Please refer to https://www.nepia.com/industry-news/coronavirus-outbreak-impact-on-shipping/ for more information on the status of each country’s port and terminal operations.
On March 2nd, 2020, the Chinese government announced the following measures to support the economy while helping to alleviate the financial burden on companies due to COVID-19:
- For small or medium-sized companies with offices in state-owned buildings, the government will waive rental costs for the months of February and March this year.
- Port construction fees for import and export products will be waived from March 1st, 2020 through June 30th, 2020.
- Port security fees for import and export products will be reduced by 20% from March 1st, 2020 through June 30th, 2020.
- Insurance fees and charges related to the extended use of containers for rail shipments will be halved through June 30th, 2020.
All highways throughout China are open, with temperature checks for all passengers in each vehicle being taken at various checkpoints. Trucks delivering CY factory loaded containers will have access to the various ports. However, please note that access to some factories may still be blocked, which may prevent truck operators from being able to collect containers or goods from said factories.
Feedback from our trucking partners is that trucking capacity has been resuming as expected, with capacity now fully resumed in Qingdao, Xiamen, and Wuhu, as well as Shanghai, Nanjing, Chongqing, and Dalian while the other origins have resumed 80-90% capacity as well.
All barge terminals in Taizhou and Wenzhou with service to the Ningbo port have re-opened. In case trucking capacity issues are encountered in this area, the barging of CY loads from these areas may be a good alternative to road transport. Should there be interest/need from your Shipper/vendors, we would be happy to provide support as needed.
According to the local government official announcement, there is currently no restriction on cargo movements throughout Italy. Our local partner offices have taken up their business contingency plan whereby all salespeople are working from home and the rest of the staff have started working in two 6-hour shifts in order to limit contact and preserve business continuity in case of infection. Obviously, this could create some delays in replying to your messages and in the execution of normal operational activities, therefore, we kindly ask for your patience during this pandemic.
Please be advised that the general lockdown imposed on all social and commercial activities by the Italian government does not affect production companies nor the circulation of goods. However, each company can decide to stop or heavily reduce their activities, therefore problems and delays in pickups and deliveries will be expected. Moreover, air companies are continuously cancelling flights with a consequent reduction of space available and rates increase.
Our partners in Italy are currently in the process of working with all our current shipper and customer base to confirm the status of their operations, along with the latest routing and timelines for active orders and verify their status accordingly.
Shipping lines and Ports continue to operate as normal, however, we are seeing more blank sailings put in place by particular carriers which will impact customer and their good’s delivery dates. We, therefore, recommend the same as with China’s exports, to add an extra 2-3 weeks lead time to your supply chain to plan ahead and book as early as possible to mitigate any delays.
The situation in Italy continues to change day in day out, and we will continue to keep you updated on any major changes or impact to local operations there. Our local office is following up on the situation and we will provide updates as and when available.
We are doing our utmost to keep up with this emergency situation and we ask for your cooperation and understanding in this difficult period during which our usual top-level service cannot be guaranteed.
Business Continuity Plans (BCP)
In recent days, the FTA had calls from members regarding BCPs for both Government agencies and Terminals should the coronavirus get to a stage where a full shutdown of these services may be required.
The FTA’s initial response has been as below, however, they have reached out to these organisations and will provide formal commentary from them once received.
All BCR offices have a strong Business Continuity Plan (BCP) ready, in case the situation escalates. As part of our ongoing BCP efforts, our staff will continue to test remote connectivity to all necessary operating platforms to ensure ongoing operations are maintained.
For further information on BCR’s Business Continuity Plan, please kindly refer to the message sent out on Wednesday, 11 March, from our CEO, Michael Thirgood.
Both the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (AWE) currently have a geographically dispersed workforce so any major shutdown in one area could be offset by processing in another.
As we have seen in the past, terminals have, where possible, sub-contracted vessels to another terminal operator. Whilst we have no official word as yet from terminal owners we would expect similar arrangements could be put in place should coronavirus impact a terminal to a degree of a full shutdown.
Shipping Line Updates
Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) have been in touch with a number of the major lines/consortia and their views are summarised below:-
- have been seeing improvement in bookings/vessel loads and would expect to see a return to full sailing schedules by end of March/early April
- trucking capacity in the Northern and Southern ports back at 100% so freight is moving
- expect full sailing schedules by week 12/13 and loads at 90-95% capacity
- vessels that have been offline have been used as storage depots for “reefers” due to the reefer plug shortage at Chinese ports – these will now slowly start to be discharged at their destination ports
- due to the lack of container movement during the blank sailing period, we could see a shortage of equipment at origin ports around the world. This may impact exports especially in the fresh produce field
- strong northbound trade – southbound starting to improve.
Any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your local BCR Customer Service Representative.
To stay abreast of all developments and general information concerning the Novel Coronavirus we suggest members maintain a watching brief on the Department of Health website
*Source: FTA, Freight & Trade Alliance https://www.ftalliance.com.au/
National Key Accounts Manager