Post sponsored by

Source: Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

23 Oct, 2020

Caleb Russell for Unsplash

Despite its title, the Science Media Centre website regularly features academics from the Business School and Law School on its Expert Commentary page. Drs Michael Wang and Bill Wang, two of the Business School’s experts in supply chain management, were recently invited to comment on the impact of COVID-19 on our shipping industry.

Following the posting of their analyses, the academics were approached for interviews with TVNZ, Radio NZ and

Read excerpts from their commentaries:

New Zealand is an island country that is highly dependent on shipping…over 99 per cent of NZ’s international trade (by tonnage) is carried by sea.

It came as no surprise to me to hear that a port worker has tested positive for the coronavirus in New Zealand, when the global pandemic is not under effective control. Experts have said as long as there is no vaccine and effective treatment for the Covid-19 on a global scale, the pandemic will continue for a long time in the future.

Although current ocean freight capacity in New Zealand is at normal levels, the major ports in New Zealand, such as Ports of Auckland and the Port of Tauranga, have adopted various solutions to ensure health and safety in their operations.

Industry and government should be paying more attention to the supply chain uncertainty and risk posed by Covid-19. We need to conduct more logistics research on this topic to support New Zealand businesses.

I also suggest that NZ companies (importers and exporters) and ports work collaboratively to improve supply chain visibility, which would help all stakeholders to quickly respond to any Covid-19 incident across the international supply chain network.”

Based on research of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia, on most surfaces, the new coronavirus can survive for about six to seven days; some can even survive for about two weeks and may be transmitted to humans.

Therefore, it is necessary for us to improve the awareness of the security of the international freight, especially the sea freight mode. All the stakeholders, especially the central and local government, and the ports, should not ignore the potential risk from the sea freight despite that the crews have been strictly tested. It is always more effective and efficient to be proactive rather than be reactive.

Some measures are necessary and needed although the related cost may be increased. For example, we could use an ABC analysis to classify imported goods into A, B, and C types of freight sources based on their origin country’s Covid-19 situation (e.g. spot check and test those goods, especially cold food, from A-type countries).

Meanwhile, collaboration between importers, freighter carriers, and exporters to share necessary information, which can be tracked and traced, could reduce risks.