90 Miles From Tyranny : Global Supply-Chain Woes May Imperil More Than Christmas Shopping

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Global Supply-Chain Woes May Imperil More Than Christmas Shopping

A global shipping crisis has been quietly brewing for months. Soon it will lead to layoffs, higher prices and fewer options at the grocery store. In time, it could threaten our nation’s security.

Vice President Kamala Harris caught a glimpse of the unfolding problem during her recent swing through Asia. In Singapore, a global hub for maritime trade, she learned that congestion at its piers was causing shipping companies to bypass the port.

What the Vice President saw in Singapore and other ports in Vietnam and China critical to global supply chains is a product of COVID. The Chinese port of Ningbo, the world's third-largest, was closed for two weeks in August by authorities over a single COVID case.

In Singapore, Harris commented that the shipping backlogs might make it hard for Christmas shoppers to have gifts on time. But the challenges are weightier than that. Our national security apparatus maintains lean inventories and relies on just-in-time manufacturing and delivery—often from overseas suppliers— to replenish their stocks. Shipping delays can create serious vulnerabilities.

The slowdown is already hitting home. In Los Angles, a key port for U.S. trade with Asia, historic shipping backlogs have resulted in a horizon full of ships at anchor waiting to enter port. The backlog is even impacting mid-west rail service and causing delays in air freight at major air hubs. For trade in perishables like fruit, delays are a deal killer; as winter approaches, consumers will find less fruit at the grocers.

The causes of these logjams are complex.

The COVID pandemic has hit global shipping and manufacturers with labor shortages for 20 months now. This problem was compounded when a large container ship grounded in the Suez Canal, blocking the waterway for six days. The cascading effects of these misadventures have created delays that will take months if not longer, to resolve.

These delays are compounding the backlogs by driving a shortage of shipping containers as ships wait at anchor to offload and reload. Container ships carry 13% of global trade by volume, accounting for 11% of global trade value. Shippers want cargo in standard containers, driving producers to look for replacements as too many are...

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  1. Our "national security apparatus" is a frigging sham anyway. It's all smoke and mirrors designed to make billionaires richer and America weaker. We spend trillions and when was the last time we decisively won a war?

  2. "The Chinese port of Ningbo, the world's third-largest, was closed for two weeks in August by authorities over a single COVID case."

    This port handles most of China's exports to North America. China is deliberately restricting exports to the US to screw us.

  3. An all-time high of 56 cargo ships are stuck waiting off the California coast, as shipping ports hit their 4th record backup in three weeks

  4. Port of LA.. more red tape than a birthday party. Too much union involvement and no competition..

  5. Christmas shouldnt be about gifts anyways.
    Dad used to have us sing Happy Birthday to Jesus then cake and ice cream then 1 gift.


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