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LA port opens round-the-clock to deal with shipping queues

by Lester Blair
The backlog outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach
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To clear the long lines of freight ships stranded outside, one of America’s largest ports will be open 24 hours per day.

This comes at a time when officials are scrambling to alleviate global supply problems that could lead to shortages of goods this Christmas.

After a similar move at the Long Beach port, Los Angeles’ Port of Los Angeles will be able to handle more cargo nightly.

Months of difficulties have plagued the ports, which are responsible for 40% of all US cargo container entry.

The White House announced Wednesday that major US companies such as FedEx and Walmart have committed to increasing their 24-hour operations in order to clear jams.

The disruption of global supply chains has been caused by economies opening up and increased consumer demand.

Retailers rushed to replenish inventories as the shipping system was unable to keep pace. Covid shut downs in major Asian ports and factories have exacerbated the issue.

This has caused shortages in toys for children, lumber, pet food, and new clothes across the US, as well as a rise in consumer prices.

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  • California ports record cargo ship backlog

Long Beach and LA ports, which serve as the major seaborne gateways to the US, have been hard hit. Long Beach was able to move an additional 23% of its shipping containers in August while LA had the ability to move 33% more than usual.

In September alone, record-breaking 73 ships had to line up outside the berths. It was not common for multiple ships to be waiting at once before Covid.

In order to address the disruption, the Biden administration created a Supply Chains Task Force.

Long Beach and LA will offer new, off-peak hours and weekends to help them load cargo quicker.

According to the White House, “Unlike leading ports all over the globe, US ports have not fully realized the possibilities offered by operating on weekends or nights,” a statement read.

Walmart, UPS and FedEx joined forces with Target, The Home Depot, Samsung and The Home Depot to increase their port night operations. This should clear 3500 additional containers per week. This afternoon, the president will meet with representatives from some of the companies and others.

These steps are a signal to other supply chains that the company is taking the necessary actions. An administration official suggested, “Let’s move up.”

Biden hopes the plan will open up capacity for the remainder of the supply chain, which includes US highways, rails, and warehouses.

It may, unfortunately. A senior White House official said to Reuters that there will be “things people cannot get”.

“A lot of these goods can be substituted by other items, however.”

He said, “I don’t believe there’s any reason to panic. But we all feel frustration. There’s also a need to have patience in order to get through a short time.”

Already, consumer prices are rising due to supply-chain shortages for goods like cars and semiconductors. Inflation, which is the rate at prices rise, was predicted by Federal Reserve last month. It’s well over its 2% target.

Due to these problems, the International Monetary Fund also reduced its outlook on growth for the US economy.

As the Republican party capitalizes on chaos it appears that the President’s approval ratings are being affected. The party has called this season “BidenBlue Christmas,” and Donald Trump, the ex-president of the United States, used it at his Iowa rally last weekend.

Source: BBC.com

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