The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian intergovernmental security organization, will hold its 18th annual meeting on June 9 and 10 in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong province. This will be the first SCO summit since India and Pakistan gained full membership in June 2017, joining the other member countries which include China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Given the recent expansion in membership, analysts believe that the SCO will exert greater influence than before on global geo-political matters. Due to the high profile event, local authorities have imposed temporary restrictions and heightened security measures in Qingdao which are likely to impact air, road and sea freight movements, at least until the end of the summit.
Reduced airfreight capacity
Domestic airlines have reportedly reduced flight frequency by up to 70 percent and are not likely to accept any further freight bookings during the summit period. Shipments of dangerous goods and lithium batteries will not be allowed via Qingdao Liuting International Airport (TAO) from May 15 to June 12. Specific security measures also apply, in particular to inbound shipments containing powder or liquids, as well as shipments heavier than 30 kilograms and exceeding the size of 200cm x 80cm x 70cm. Customers are advised to also expect many international flights, both passenger and cargo, to be cancelled before and after the summit on an ad-hoc basis.
Traffic restrictions established
According to a notice issued by local authorities, pickup and delivery services will be severely disrupted throughout the period of June 6 to 12 due to traffic controls and the shutdown of general businesses in the inner city. Several logistics companies will stop operations and have ordered staff to remain home, in particular between June 7 and 10. Specific regulatory measures include the restriction of vehicles in inner Qingdao and near the airport, and the prohibition of vehicles with two or three wheels from entering inner Qingdao.
Safety inspections at Port of Qingdao
Dangerous goods have also been restricted from entering the Port of Qingdao between June 6 and 11, with the exception of class 8 and 9. All cargo bound for the Port of Qingdao will continue to undergo heightened inspections from May 15 until after the summit, likely causing extensive shipment delays throughout that period. Furthermore, vehicles carrying gasoline or driven by gasoline will be prohibited from entering the port area, affecting pick-up and delivery between May 30 and June 15.
China’s Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) has also announced special safety inspections for vessels entering Qingdao water areas for navigation, berthing and operations from April 20 to mid-June. According to reports, vessels are required to submit a “special information report” to the MSA 48-hours prior to its arrival and vessels’ berthing will be limited to daytime only. It was also reported that LNG/LPG and oil tankers may not be permitted to berth or sail during this period.
As part of the special safety efforts, onboard vessel inspection is likely to take place as part of the security patrol by the Qingdao Vessel Traffic Service and Customs officials. Congestion issues may also arise at the port due to the temporary restrictions ahead of the summit and a recent bad weather period, causing increased berthing times for vessels as well as longer customs clearance processes. Customers with interests in shipments to Qingdao should divert shipments to nearby ports, including Lianyungang or Yantai and arrange alternative transport to the final destination.