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Container ships anchored off the coasts of the United States have been told they could face a four-week delay before being allowed to dock and unload goods consumers are eagerly awaiting and the parts needed by American manufacturers.
Across the Atlantic in Britain, too, empty supermarket shelves, and frustrated drivers forming long lines at gas stations to fill up, tell a similar story of an unprecedented strain on cross-border global supply chains.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world’s traditional supply chains. Congestion at ports, factory closures, soaring freight charges and an acute shortage of transport workers is likely to get worse, the International Chamber of Shipping and allied transport groups have warned.
In a letter to the United Nations General Assembly last week, they warned of a “crumbling” global supply chain.
Before the pandemic, synchronized cross-border supply chains could be relied on to move goods, raw materials, and parts just before they were needed by stores and factories.
But the chains are snapping.
The continent of Europe is also facing disrupted supply chains, although not as critical at this stage as Britain, where post-pandemic delivery challenges have been intensified by trade disruption consequences of Brexit.