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Shipping delays may spoil food, medical shipments to Russia, Maersk says

Key Points
  • Maersk and two other large container lines have temporarily suspended cargo shipments to and from Russia in response to Western sanctions on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.
  • The suspension did not include food, medical and humanitarian supplies.
  • The indirect impacts of sanctions was now putting further pressure on global freight, Maersk added.
A.P. Moller-Maersk, is one of the world's biggest container shippers with a market share of around 17%, and is widely seen as a barometer of global trade.
Andia | UIG via Getty Images

Shipments of food and medical supplies to Russia risk being damaged or spoiled due to significant delays at ports and customs, shipping group Maersk told its customers on Wednesday.

Maersk and two other large container lines have temporarily suspended cargo shipments to and from Russia in response to Western sanctions on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

The suspension did not include food, medical and humanitarian supplies.

"We do, however, warn caution on still placing bookings for perishable cargo due to significant delays in key transshipment hubs that may damage the cargo," Maersk said in a customer advisory on its website.

It said customs authorities in the European Union and UK are inspecting all containers to and from Russia transiting their terminals and ports to identify sanctioned and restricted shipments.

As a consequence, Maersk said it could not provide any guarantees and saw a "significant risk to our customers' perishable cargo".

For the past year the world has been struggling with supply chain bottlenecks caused by surging demand for retail goods transported on container ships amid lockdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The indirect impacts of sanctions was now putting further pressure on global freight, Maersk added.

"This is a global impact, and not only limited to trade with Russia."

How Maersk dominates the global shipping industry
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How Maersk dominates the global shipping industry