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US announces public-private initiate efforts to address transportation supply chain bottlenecks

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NEW YORK : The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a major public-private initiative to address the transportation supply chain bottlenecks that have aggravated in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prominent among these include moving towards 24/7 operations at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and large companies announcing they will use expanded hours to move more cargo off the docks, so ships can come to the shore faster.

Unlike leading ports around the world, US ports have failed to realise the full possibility offered by operation on nights and weekends, a senior administration official said. Moving goods during off-peak hours can help move goods out of ports faster.

For example, at the Port of Los Angeles, goods move 25 per cent faster at night than during the day. These commitments will help unlock capacity in the rest of the system—including highways, railroads and warehouses—by reducing congestion during the day, said the official.

Later in the day, the Biden administration is convening a meeting of business, port, and union leaders to discuss the challenges at ports across the country and actions each partner can take to address the delays and congestion across the transportation supply chain.

President Joe Biden will meet with the leadership from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to discuss the actions they are each taking to address these challenges in Southern California, the White House said.

In June, Biden had launched the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, which included a focus on transportation and logistics bottlenecks to the US economic recovery.

After meeting with local government leaders and companies to diagnose the problems and identify solutions, Port Envoy John Porcari was appointed in August to help drive coordination between the many private firms that control the transportation and logistics supply chain.

According to White House officials, the pandemic has led to a surge in e-commerce, with sales increasing 39 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020. At the same time, COVID has disrupted workers in key transportation and logistics nodes – the jobs of 1,800 Southern California port workers were disrupted because of COVID earlier this year.

“These disruptions are not just happening here at home, but all around the world as COVID has led to global shutdowns and disruptions,’ officials said.

The Chinese ports of Yantian (Shenzhen) and Ningbo-Zhoushan—two of the top 5 largest ports in the world—each experienced multi-week partial terminal closures to curb COVID outbreaks.

In September, hundreds of factories closed under lockdown restrictions in Vietnam, halting production that supports thousands of retailers worldwide. They have been slowly reopening since early October but must still contend with mounting supply chain issues. These disruptions have made the transportation supply chain more unstable and difficult to predict, the White House said.

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