As the global trade recession began to materialize in 2022, there was a great deal of hype over the potential boost to ocean container demand once the Chinese government ended its COVID restrictions and lockdown measures. But now that hype has faded and what was once hoped to be a great reopening and much-needed boost to volumes is looking more and more like a great flop.
In the chart above, the Inbound Ocean TEU Volume Index from China to the U.S. provides a seasonality view that compares 2023 volumes thus far (white line) with volumes over the past four years. It was late March/early April of 2022 (green line) when the Chinese government announced another round of COVID restrictions and lockdowns. This new round of lockdowns at first appeared as if they would make the transportation of goods to and from major manufacturing hubs nearly impossible