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Exporter Roundtable Reveals Everyone is Affected

The congestion at the ports continues unabated and supply chain disruption grows more complicated, raising significant economic international challenges. “What we are experiencing today is a different type of traffic jam, one that has an impact on international trade and the entire global supply chain. Everyone is affected – from families sitting at their kitchen tables to CEOs in the board room,” said Michael Ford, chair of the Mid-Atlantic District Export Council, at a recent Exporter Roundtable webinar held on Nov. 18.

The agenda for this special session was designed to provide timely, critical updates from various perspectives, including key insights from the Department of Transportation on the newly passed, bi-partisan infrastructure package which will address the disruptions at ports and the need for resiliency in our supply chain.

Heather Sykes, director of the Office of Supply Chain, Professional, and Business Services at the Department of Commerce, discussed concerns over emerging trends leading to the current severe congestion, such as the large increase in containerized imports and the move to ‘just in case’ ordering, and their implications for storage and transportation of imported goods from the ports to the consumer. She also noted the large cost increases of transporting goods into and out of the United States.

In addition, five real-world case studies were presented by local manufacturers and brokers and freight forwarders who are experiencing these global challenges first-hand. They presented a range of topics from pivoting to new shipping options, such as shifting to sending smaller packages by air, to seeking solutions for working with shipping companies to bring down the drastically rising costs of containers and manage the high costs of shipping.

These East Coast business owners, along with their West Coast colleagues, shared their recent experiences, but at the same time, were actively searching for reasonable alternatives and effective solutions.  Despite the pessimism around obstacles such as rapidly increasing costs, idle drivers and trucks, layoffs, canceled orders, lack of storage space and the poor customer service that can all result from undependable scheduling, a positive outlook was also expressed by some.

During the webinar, a live poll of the participants highlighted the critical impact of port congestion on them. Here are the results.

Poll Question #1: Port congestion has impacted many companies. Please select how this issue may have impacted your business in 2021.

Responses:

Delayed our ability to export 37%
Cancelled some of our export orders 15%
Increased our costs for our products 40%
No impact 7%

Poll Question #2: When do you think the issue of congestion will be over in 2022?

Responses:

First/Second quarter of 2022 7%
Third quarter 15%
Not until the end of 2022 26%

Poll Question #3: Can the private sector fix the current congestion challenges?

Responses:

Yes 34%
No 34%
Unsure 31%

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