Maersk and MSC – the two largest shipping companies in the world – have announced they will stop all cargo bookings to and from Russia.
The ban excluded essential items such as foodstuffs, medical equipment and humanitarian supplies. The Baltics, Black Sea and Far East Russia are all covered by the suspension.
The two join Ocean Network Express and Hapag-Lloyd in suspending deliveries to Russia. The four together account for almost half of global shipping traffic, according to shipping database Alphaliner.
Glenn Koepke, general manager of network collaboration at consultancy FourKites, told the New York Times shipping rates could double or triple as a result of the Russian invasion.
Meanwhile the UK has banned vessels owned or operated by anyone connected with Russia from entering ports.
Tim Morris, chief executive of trade association the UK Major Ports Group, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “Right now what we're seeing is some vessels related to Russian interests divert on the way to the UK. Some are at anchor off the coast of the UK, having been denied access to our ports, and are working out what they do next.
“And the vessels that were here already have been packed up and dispatched as quickly as safety allows.”
Shipping executives and port officials in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany said containerised cargo destined for Russia would be stopped and inspected.
According to analysis by research firm Transport Intelligence, Russia’s invasion may trigger a reassessment of the structure of the global trading system based on political criterion.
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