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The effects of COVID-19 continue to impact shipping companies, freight forwarders and supply chains on every continent. The International Monetary Fund predicts that the COVID-19 pandemic will severely impact growth across all regions with world merchandise trade expected to plummet up to 32% in 2020. Economic activity is expected to normalise heading into 2021, and despite extreme uncertainty, global growth is expected to grow by 5.8%. Future economic growth is reliant on multiple factors such as the pathway and longevity of the pandemic, supply disruptions, and changes in human behavioural patterns and subsequent spending habits. However, experts cannot confirm whether the intensity and efficacy of containment efforts, which will ultimately guide the global economic future, will be successful.

Countries, ports and organisations the world over are looking for guidance, direction and hope as all try to navigate the 2019-nCoV novel Coronavirus outbreak that has hijacked the global economy. As of May 2020, Shipping Australia continues to dispute tight COVID-19 rules as Australian ports crawl into action while restrictions are tentatively relaxed. In Italy, ports are open for container ships and commercial vessels, albeit operating under strict safety conditions to protect all operators and ground staff from exposure. Road transport continues to be closely governed across Europe with tight border controls still in place, and cargo trains operational in reduced numbers. China continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and adjust its port activities accordingly. A move away from relying on China for future trade seems inescapable despite past massive dependence on China for cheap exports and import demand. Chinese authorities recently adopted tighter quality control on all shipments, particularly medical equipment, with expanded export checks leading to congestion at the ports and surges in air cargo costs. The coronavirus has spread to more than 180 countries, and as of 18 May 2020, 12 countries have the most severe outbreaks accounting for nearly 3.5 million cases. Ships arriving in China from “severe outbreak” countries are subject to strict quarantine measures which consequently adds to port delays.

The coronavirus is having an unprecedented impact on the entire global community and looks set to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Companies are adhering to strict guidelines on how to conduct business, that, in some cases are, inconsistent and contradictory. Most businesses do their best to stay afloat with legitimate business activities, and opportunists are attempting to benefit from chaotic market prices all in a bid to survive the unknown. One thing is for sure, though, savvy businesses will be using their time in lock-down to secure business closer to home and to diversify their supply chains in the future. The virus may serve as a catalyst for massive change and technological advancements in the shipping industry, with live connectivity, greater visibility and more control over shipments, a must. Avion International Freight Forwarders continues to fortify the integrity of the global supply chain throughout the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis while providing unwavering support for every client. We continue to provide innovative consolidation services and superior 3PL services and have increased our online presence to facilitate faster response times to disruptions. Every Avion International Freight Forwarder branch the world over will continue to navigate the changing international circumstances with caution and dexterity, always putting our clients needs first.