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Shortages and Delays Continue to Tamper with Global Supply Chain – Just in time for Christmas

Saying scenes at UK fuel stations were chaotic over the weekend is perhaps an understatement. Consumers started to ‘panic buy’ fuel after a shortage of lorry drivers in the UK started to affect fuel deliveries, leading to lengthy queues at fuel stations. 

There is estimated to be a shortfall of around 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK. The shortfall has been triggered by an exodus of foreign nationals, post-Brexit immigration rules, and self-isolation requirements.

In a joint statement from companies including Shell, ExxonMobil and Greenergy, the industry reiterated that pressures on supply were being caused by "temporary spikes in customer demand - not a national shortage of fuel".

The government is to suspend competition law to allow oil firms to target fuel deliveries at petrol stations. Officials said the move would make it easier for companies to share information and prioritise parts of the country most at need.

The shortage in drivers has caused problems for a range of industries in recent months, from supermarkets to fast food chains with even some news outlets proclaiming that Christmas could be cancelled.

Rick Tellez, the co-founder of supply chain logistics platform KlearNow, called on the logistics sector and the UK government to do more to educate consumers about their part in the global supply chain and said it only took a “tiny minority” to panic and affect supply chains.

As the US economy has rebounded and businesses have reopened, a rising demand for imports has led to massive delays on the supply side as the world’s logistics and shipping industry struggle to return to pre-pandemic norms.

Just recently in the US, 65 cargo ships were stuck outside two of the US’s biggest ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach, as supply chain problems continue to tamper with the global economy.

Prior to the pandemic, it was rare for more than one to wait to dock at the ports. At the weekend it was a record 73 ships, double the number seen in August.

While US consumers have not fully returned to their previous spending on restaurants and travel, Reuters reports, they continue to splurge on physical goods ranging from appliances and home exercise equipment to sweatpants and toys. The vast majority of which is imported by ship from Asia.

A concerted effort is being made to try and ease the backlog on the US side. In late August the White House announced John Porcari as port envoy to the Biden-Harris administration’s Supply Chain Task Force.

To help ease congestion, the two Californian ports have agreed to expand the hours during which trucks can collect and return containers, and some ships are being diverted to other points of entry — though they are also struggling with capacity issues.

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Sources: The Independent, BBC News, Sky News