China reported strong export figures despite shipping delays.

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China’s policies have been effective in keeping virus cases to a minimum, but at some economic cost.

Yantian Port, located in the city of Shenzhen in southeast China, one of the largest ports in the world, partially closed From the end of May to most of June. Shenzhen has taken action in response to less than two dozen coronavirus cases.

When the port fully reopens on June 24, shipping managers and shipping companies hoped that trade would begin to return to normal.

It didn’t turn out that way.

Dozens of large container ships were far behind schedule when they had to wait weeks to dock in Shenzhen. This meant that the ships then showed up in bundles at ports in other countries, causing further congestion. Chinese export factories have also sent goods by truck to alternative ports such as Shanghai, making them overcrowded as well.

Zhao Chongjiu, China’s deputy transport minister, defended his country’s tough coronavirus measures. “Everyone knows that during a pandemic, workers in ports must be locked down and various countries have taken appropriate measures, so the efficiency of loading and unloading will decrease,” Yantian said when reopened.

By mid-June, the freight yard at Shanghai’s expansive, highly automated Yangshan Deep Water Port was so packed with containers that stacker cranes barely had room to lift containers onto and off ships. Dong Haitao, a senior manager of the adjacent free trade zone, blamed foreign ports for not handling incoming containers on time.

“Their shipping schedules are broken, but ours is not,” he said.

In the weeks since Yantian Port reopened, shipping rates for containers have continued to rise rapidly. The increase is expected to continue as stores, particularly in the United States, begin to refill shelves for returning customers and prepare for the Christmas shopping season.

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