The shortage crisis blew up in mid-2020 when containers shipped to North America and Europe were stranded there by Covid-19 restrictions that meant almost nothing moved in the opposite direction. For every 10 containers shipped to North America, only four were returning to Asia, causing a huge imbalance.
The resulting shortage saw freight charges soar from about US$1,500 (Bt46,000) to $6,000-$9,000 per container in February this year, according to shippers.
Thailand is currently facing its own shortage of containers, which have been redirected to meet demand in China and Vietnam, said CIMB researchers.
The research office said the container shortage and high freight charges would hit exporters throughout the first half of 2021. They added that the container crisis would resolve in the second half of 2021, however, as Covid-19 vaccination in the US and Europe lifted levels of exports from the West.