Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

Freight and financial services company Grindrod has reported little impact on traffic to and from China during the first quarter of 2020, but says it is bracing for restricted trade flow in Southern Africa.

The group said there was not much of an effect on shipments of commodities to China during the three months to end-March, and only a marginal effect on inbound shipments from Asia.

The group is assessing the effects of SA's lockdown on its regional operations, reporting that trade flows in SA and Mozambique had either ceased or were severely restricted.

The group said its container business was assisting with essential cargoes. Containers with nonessential cargo are evacuated to depots for later delivery.

“Container berths across the SA ports have been significantly reduced and therefore the businesses are operating well below optimal levels,” the group said.

“The extent of the impact will depend on the duration of the closure of the SA mineral businesses and the flow of mineral cargo through the Mozambique border,” Grindrod said.

Early indications reveal that the government may allow some dispensation for the mines to continue operating under strict conditions once they have secured the necessary approvals, which could mitigate the effect of the lockdown, the group said.

In morning trade on Monday, Grindrod's share price was up 1.02% to R2.97, having fallen 40.95% so far in 2020.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za