Business Associations closely monitor international shipping disruptions…says the situation is expected to normalize in 2022.

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We may see the pressure of prices on goods in T&T due to disruptions at international ports. On Wednesday Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley confirmed that Trinidad & Tobago will be impacted.

PSA media reached out to President of the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association Gregory Aboud on the matter. He explained that all trade will be affected whether brick and mortar or online services, but he said the association believes that it is only a matter of time before the situation of high freight charges is resolved as the market is moving quickly to address the imbalances.

“Those imbalances include a shortage in supply of empty containers and the disruption of the movement of cargo through some of the major ports in the world,” Aboud explained.

He added that more resources are currently being put into the port operations on the West Coast of America and the shortage of empty containers is being addressed by the construction of new empty container shells.  

And according to Time magazine, Transporting a 40-foot steel container of cargo by sea from Shanghai to Rotterdam now costs a record $10,522, a massive 547% increase compared to the seasonal average over the last five years. With more than 80% of all goods traded transported by sea, freight-cost surges are threatening to boost the price of everything from toys, furniture, and car parts to coffee, sugar, and anchovies, exacerbating concerns in global markets already bracing for accelerating inflation.

Aboud said the association expects that by the end of the first quarter of 2022 there should be the restart of normal freight charges.

Meanwhile, during an interview with PSA media, President of the Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago Rajiv Diptee said that affects on trade can only be determined when the international market begins to recover. Despite this, he noted that we are in fact seeing pressures on the prices of goods.

“This is something that can only be determined when the international market begins to recover in terms of actual supply beginning to meet the demand,” Diptee explained.

He added, “That is something that will chronically be an issue to further consider going into 2022.”

When asked how soon normalcy is expected to return, Diptee said that with extended periods of lockdowns around the world, the situation should be closely monitored.

And with VAT removal on basic food items such as canned meat, cereals, juices, and oils coming into effect on Monday, he added that the possibility of price increases on these items, which will then counteract the government’s VAT removal move, is also being monitored.