Supply chain update
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the author is Secretary General of International Chamber of Shipping
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a perfect storm has been brewing in global trade. A combination of excess demand, Shortage of ships Crucially, the abuse of transport workers is putting tremendous pressure on the world’s fragile supply chains.
The storm is breaking now. Governments must act quickly if they want to tide over the difficulties.Short-term price increases are painful, but they will disrupt the supply chain. We have already seen this symptom in supermarkets And restaurants, Will be devastating.
The price of goods moved by enterprises is as much as 10 times higher than that of the same period last year. After the first blockade shifted people’s choice from services to commodities, the demand for physical products surged. But travel restrictions make it almost impossible to match supply and demand.
The impact on the business is dangerous.Delivery delay means The company is already scared During their Christmas trading period. The government is worried that voters will face empty shelves and higher prices. If no immediate action is taken, the problem may persist for several years.
This month, China’s Ningbo Port was partially closed due to Covid-19 infection. This is the latest example of the shutdown and congestion of major ports in the world. The containers carrying the goods are stranded far away from where they need to be. The increase in oil prices has made transportation more expensive.
But an important cause of the crisis has nothing to do with oil prices or container shortages. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many governments have been held responsible for the negligence of transport workers.
The millions of workers who maintain unimpeded trade should have received the care and respect that doctors, nurses, police, and shop workers deserve. Despite the efforts of the industry, it is far from enough. On the contrary, in the face of increasingly harsh working conditions, the most important link in the supply chain-personnel-began to crack.
At the international border, truck drivers slept in their cabs for two weeks. Some pilots have flown thousands of miles without being allowed to leave the cockpit. The seafarer was trapped on a ship far beyond the scope of his duties-in some cases as long as 18 months-and never set foot on land.
Many people are leaving the industry, exacerbating its paralysis. At the current rate, by 2025, merchant shipping alone will be short of 75,000 officials.
Air transport, road and maritime industry agencies have repeatedly stated that this situation is untenable.International Labor Organization Found last year The government’s treatment of maritime transport workers is illegal. Pope Francis warns Their needs are not met. But the government has adopted an unwise approach of “not seeing the mind and not bothering you”. In the shared supply chain, what happens around the world will have an impact on our front porch.
Pen and ink cannot build new ships overnight, and no government will expect voters to reduce spending to reduce demand on the global supply chain. But the treatment of transport workers can be improved almost immediately.
Introducing “green channels” to allow trucks, ships and aircraft to bypass strict border controls will help staff and shorten delivery times. Prioritizing vaccinations for transport workers and treating them as key workers will enable staff to rotate and rest. Working with other governments to ensure consistent treatment of cross-border workers will reduce red tape that hinders supply.
Trade is cyclical. As the world emerges from the pandemic, demand will rise and fall. The government has a chance to avoid disaster. It would be frustrating if they acted out of the national economic self-interest and not to reduce human suffering. But this is better than not acting.