As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, more and more countries are closing their ports of entry to trade from China. Supply chains are being disrupted, oil prices are in flux, and an outbreak originating in China will have an impact on trucking here in the United States.
According to the World Health Organization, the current outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has now infected more than 28,000 people. The vast majority of cases are in China. A large percentage of China’s cases are in the province of Hubei, where Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, is located. Still, the virus has spread to other countries around the world including Korea, Japan, Australia, India, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Canada, and the U.S.
Countries have begun to ban not only passenger travel from China, but also cargo shipments. Since China is the world’s largest manufacturer, this is already having an impact on global freight movement.
It’s not just goods imported directly from China that U.S. truckers need to be aware of though. China’s factories supply components for goods manufactured in other countries as well. For example, Hyundai Motor Co. is halting production at all seven of its plants in South Korea because it can’t get parts made by their suppliers in China.
According to Freightwaves, roughly 40% of all shipments entering the U.S. last month came from China. As trucking has seen from the trade war with China, even a relatively small dip in imports from China can have an impact on freight volumes – and therefore rates.
Since the coronavirus is not yet contained, it is not yet known how far the virus will spread or what its eventual impact will be. According to the WHO, the rate of infection is increasing. A situation report published by the WHO on February 1st reported 2,128 new confirmed cases within the previous 24 hours. In a report published on February 6th, 3,722 had been confirmed within the previous 24 hours.
For more information on the coronavirus, including how to protect yourself and list of common misconceptions, you can visit the World Health Organization website.