Importers in the United States are experiencing an early Christmas due to a port backlog.


Importers in the United States are experiencing an early Christmas due to a port backlog.

At the port of Los Angeles, Christmas arrived early — in June, to be exact — as American importers raced to stay ahead of a pandemic-related congestion that has slowed worldwide shipping.

After the White House intervened to help ease bottlenecks that are stifling commerce and driving up costs, the port, which is North America’s busiest container terminal, began 24-hour operations on Thursday.

Despite this, scores of ships carrying hundreds of thousands of containers remained anchored outside the harbor, waiting for a berth on docks that were already overflowing. Many people will wait longer than ten days.

“We’re busy,” said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, to reporters on Thursday.

“We don’t attend to baseball games, the movies, or the opera; we buy stuff instead. Whether we travel to our local large box stores or shop online, we need to refresh our supplies.” Demand is flourishing, but supply is failing to keep up. Economies that were largely shut down for sections of the last year by governments seeking to combat the coronavirus are reopening, and demand is rising — but supply is struggling to keep up.

Globalization has weakened supply networks that go from resource extraction in Australia through manufacture in Asian manufacturing centres and finally to consumers in the West.

Goods are loaded into box containers and carried through ports and stations on ships, trains, and trucks between each stage.

If one of these phases fails, the entire chain can come to a standstill.

Almost all of them did throughout the pandemic.

Even when things begin to normalize in the United States, the consequences are still being felt.

“Everything is backordered, and all the ships are in the ocean,” said Tony Nguyen, a truck driver.

“I’ve been driving for the port for almost ten years, but this year has been particularly bad. That’s something I’ve never seen before.” Because of the bottlenecks, US importers started making Christmas preparations early, stocking up on tinsel and toys while most Americans were gearing up for the summer.

Seroka told CNN earlier this month that “the American importer… moved ahead much of the holiday inventory, sooner than we’ve seen in previous years.”

“Importers started bringing in holiday season cargo in June, which puts them two to two-and-a-half months ahead of plan.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cautioned on Tuesday that supply chain interruptions are driving price rises, as it lowered its growth forecast amid a global recovery that is becoming increasingly uneven.

In September, consumer prices in the United States increased by more than 5%.

The limitations of raw resources are caused by a number of circumstances. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.


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