China’s military exercises are making ships think twice about heading into the Port of Kaohsiung, creating potential delays for shipments of electronic goods.
Ships are dropping anchor at sea to avoid a drill zone just outside the port, said Jayendu Krishna, deputy head of consultancy Drewry Maritime Advisors.
The zone is one of the largest areas in which China is carrying out military exercises and is 15 nautical miles (27.8km) from the entrance of the port.
Ship owners are worried about the possibility of missiles hitting their vessels, choosing to idle vessels and burn extra fuel until the drills pass.
“They will avoid going to Kaohsiung for the next two to three days, because that’s directly in the line of fire,” Krishna said.
“Some dry-bulk ships and tankers have been asked to anchor and wait for orders,” he added.
Kaohsiung is operating normally, and no unusually high ship congestion was found in the outer seas, Port of Kaohsiung vice president Su Jiann-rong (蘇建榮) said.
“There has been no impact from the military drills so far,” Su said, adding that there are empty piers in the harbor.
No ships had canceled plans to enter or leave ports on Thursday, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said in a statement.
The Taiwan Strait is a key route for supply chains, with almost half of the global container fleet passing through the waterway this year.
While vessels are continuing to travel through the strait during the military exercises, they are navigating around the drill zones.
Some shipowners have barred their vessels from transiting the strait. Two liquefied natural gas suppliers informed ships to not travel through the waterway until they can confirm the military drills have ended, traders with knowledge of the matter said.
Kaohsiung is a major stop for vessels picking up Taiwanese semiconductor chips, and is also where state refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (中油) makes petrochemicals for factories of manufactured goods around the world, shipping experts said.
Additional delays are likely to ripple out and eventually affect shipments of Asian goods headed to the US, Krishna said.
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