Goods are taking forever to reach their destination just two months before Christmas and with Black Friday just around the corner. Dozens of cargo ships wait up to 12 days at anchor off the docks to unload their goods, while on land hundreds of shippers queue for up to 10 hours to pick up shipments.
The White House has pressed for 24-hour-a-day work to resolve the crisis.
“We’re working as fast as we can,” says Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. Those 62 ships at anchor right now have important parts and components that have to go to U.S. manufacturers. And retail products that have to get to our homes and our stores. Black Friday is only four and a half weeks away. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Forty percent of the containers coming into the U.S. come through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Most of them are products from Asia.
The perfect storm that unleashed the crisis
This crisis is the result of a perfect storm of factors. The pandemic has led to a dramatic increase in online shopping by Americans. Added to that is the lack of carriers and truck chassis. These elements that have compounded the supply chain’s existing problems.
“The entire supply chain in the United States, and indeed globally, was already creaking before the pandemic. The pandemic exposed, with its higher volumes and different purchasing patterns, that the system needs to be changed,” says John Porcari, a member of the Biden Administration’s task force to find solutions to the situation.
And it is not only the United States that is suffering. All industrialized countries are facing these logistical problems, which are causing shortages of everyday products, fueling inflation and slowing down the world economy, which is also affected by rising energy prices.
Some countries, such as France, argue that the solution lies in economic independence, without the current subordination to Asian products, especially in sectors of strategic importance.