Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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US announces more measures to unclog major ports

  • The Port of Los Angeles will operate around the clock, an action already being undertaken at the Port of Long Beach
  • Major companies including Walmart, UPS and FedEx has committed to expand their working hours
  • Target, Home Depot and Samsung are also increasing their work in off-peak hours
  • The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has agreed to work extra shifts

The US government has announced initiatives, including moving to 24/7 the operations at the Port of Los Angeles, to ease supply chain disruptions that have led to port congestion, higher prices of goods, and shortages of products that all pose a threat to the country’s economic recovery.

President Joe Biden in a speech on October 13 said the Port of Los Angeles (Port of LA) will operate around the clock, an action already being undertaken at the Port of Long Beach. The two ports are the busiest container ports in the US, handling 40% of container traffic in the country.

Biden said these moves will almost double the number of hours the Port of LA is open for business, in an effort to resolve a logjam that has slowed the shipment of manufactured goods from Asia.

In addition, major companies including Walmart, UPS and FedEx have committed to expand their working hours. Walmart, the nation’s largest retail chain, has committed to a 50% increase in moving goods during off-peak hours, while logistics companies FedEx and UPS will also increase their overnight operations.

Target, Home Depot and Samsung are also reportedly increasing their work in off-peak hours.

The White House said, “Across these six companies over 3,500 additional containers per week will move at night through the end of the year.”

Gene Seroka, executive director of Los Angeles port, on October 6 had attributed the record port backlog to strong consumer demand in the US, record-high factory output in Asia, and a 30% increase in vessel capacity in the trans-Pacific trade.

Earlier it was reported that an estimated 500,000 containers were waiting to be unloaded off the southern coast of California, where more than 70 container ships were anchored and waiting outside the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Seroka, commenting on the President’s announcement regarding 24/7 operations, said: “Operational details are being discussed and worked out with the supply chain stakeholders. The significance of today’s announcement is the commitment from industry leaders responsible for moving goods on behalf of American consumers and businesses to open up the capacity needed to deliver. It’s a call to action for others to follow.”

The Port of Long Beach (POLB) expanded operations at one of its terminals to overnight shifts in September in response to the growing supply chain crunch at the port.

Its officials have applauded the White House’s involvement.

“Whenever we are faced with a crisis here, it’s our philosophy to channel it into something positive,” Mario Cordero, POLB executive director, said. “Before this unprecedented cargo surge began, we believed 24/7 operations were the future. After all, consumers can shop online at any time, whether it’s at 4 p.m. or 4 a.m., and 24/7 is already the standard at our partner ports in Asia. The supply chain truly never stops now, and we’re thankful to the Biden administration for using its influence to ensure cargo is always moving.”

As part of the coordination facilitated by the Biden administration on October 13, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has agreed to work extra shifts, clearing the way for private businesses to adjust their operations to move cargo 24/7 to clear the backlog, the POLB said in a statement.

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