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The cost of global trade is surging, and there are no signs of it slowing down. After all, the grand reopening in the US and Europe after months of Covid-19 lockdowns has unleashed pent-up demand, and companies are racing to restock in response. With lingering supply-chain bottlenecks, especially shortages of shipping containers themselves, plus the longest delays seen in a decade, prices are galloping off to record highs. By mid-July, the going rates for containers to ship goods from Shanghai to Los Angeles were 236% higher than a year ago; from Shanghai to Rotterdam, they were an eye-watering 595% higher.

The bottlenecks aren’t going anywhere: In the short term, the uneven global recovery and limited alternatives to ocean freight will mean that prices will remain high, especially since it can take a year and a half to build a new ship, and the industry has seen underinvestment for…

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