Update: Supply chain problems

Events have conspired to drive global supply chains towards breaking point, threatening the fragile flow of raw materials, parts and consumer goods, according to companies, economists and shipping specialists.

As supply chains problems affect the United States and China, the world’s economic motors that together account for more 40% of global economic output fears are that this could lead to a slowdown in the global economy, along with rising prices for goods and raw materials.

Global supply chain issues include ships stuck at sea unable to make port to pick up of discharge cargo; fresh ships’ crews locked down by the Delta covid strain ripping through Asia; the massive flooding in Europe; floods and typhoon in China; shutdowns in Asian auto manufacturers; a global shortage of semi-conductors; a suspension of pick-ups by rail operator Union Pacific to ease congestion in Chicago, which in turn screws up the entry ports of Baltimore, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and Tacoma; a cyber-attack in South Africa; and a massively cautious track-and-trace program in the UK that pings anyone close to a positive covid test to self-isolate and stay home from work which is affecting deliveries. All these factors are acting as a massive anchor on global trade.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus has devastated parts of Asia and prompted many nations to cut off land access for sailors. That’s left captains unable to rotate weary crews and about 100,000 seafarers stranded at sea beyond their stints in a flashback to 2020 and the height of lockdowns.

“We’re no longer on the cusp of a second crew change crisis, we’re in one,” the secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, told Reuters.

“This is a perilous moment for global supply chains.”

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping