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Port Closures in China and Higher Yields in the U.S. Threaten to Batter Africa’s Fragile Economies

File image of cargo containers stacked at Yantian port in Shenzhen in China's southern Guangdong province. STR / AFP

Many of Africa’s already embattled economies are bracing for more pain as the rapidly spreading Delta variant provokes new disruptions to the global trading system and encourages bond investors to flee emerging markets for shelter in U.S. government debt.

Last week’s closure of a terminal at the Port of Ningbo in eastern China, the world’s third-largest, after the detection of just a single case of COVID-19 could make an already bad situation much worse for African traders and port operators. For weeks now, cargo volumes at ports in east and southern Africa have fallen sharply due to distortions in the system causing shortages in both ships and shipping containers.

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