WORLD markets are closely watching the flare-up of COVID-19 in China, which has seen Chinese authorities implement lockdowns in some areas, such as the nation's most populous city Shanghai.
Globally shipping container markets are nervy with the potential for container prices to rise at a critical period of the year for the northern hemisphere due to a lack of supplies with China not exporting as many containers as usual.
Oil markets have also reacted to the Chinese slowdown, with Brent crude oil prices dropping by close to 10 per cent earlier in the week to $US110 a barrel, the lowest price in several weeks since the Ukraine conflict began.
Commonwealth Bank agriculture analyst Tobin Gorey said this drop in price was investors starting to factor in lower usage patterns out of China should the lockdowns start to seriously bite industry.
China, which still maintains an official COVID-zero policy, is trying to manage its surge in numbers as the Omicron variant bites.
As part of this it is enforcing staged lockdowns, with different parts of Shanghai shutting at different times.
Industry experts warned it could have flow on effects in weeks and months to come.
"If persisted, the lockdowns will delay container movement significantly at these ports which will have the maximum impact on the US shipments," said Johannes Schlingmeier, cofounder and chief executive of shipping information business Container xChange.
"Looking in the long term, this will add create more chaos as rates climb higher, capacity tightens and shipments delay," Dr Schlingmeier said.
He said a number of factors meant sea transporters would have to plan carefully this year.
"The shippers will need to plan their cargo much more in advance in 2022 than the last year, given the geopolitical scenario, the upcoming US west coast contract negotiations in July and the rail route disruptions."
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