president Biden on Wednesday announced its government’s steps to tackle supply chain bottlenecks before the Christmas season, saying the various measures had helped avert a Christmas crisis.
Biden made the comments during a meeting with his Task Force Supply Chain Disruptions, a group of CEOs and corporate administrators that was formed in June to address the issue. The White House says the task force has made “significant strides in removing bottlenecks attributed to the global pandemic”.
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Attendees at the meeting included Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx, Sonia Syngal, CEO of Gap, and Christopher Connor, CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities, as well as Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.
“The much-predicted crisis did not materialize,” said Biden. “Parcels are moving, gifts are being delivered, shelves are not empty.” Despite the interruptions in the supply chain, Biden said the shelves in grocery and drug stores are filled to 90% of full capacity – compared to 91% before the pandemic that shut down much of the country’s economy.
Biden pointed to the government’s plan to clean up debris in some of the country’s largest ports, including establishing 24-hour operations in the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach. The president also spoke with CEOs of Wal-Mart, Target, UPS and FedEx about how to alleviate supply chain challenges while ships wait to dock at some of the largest ports.
The ports, which handle around 40% of national imports, handled more than 765,000 containers in November and over 9.3 million containers so far in 2021, an increase of 15% from the 2018 record.
Smith, FedEx CEO, said the supply chain problems were “not all resolved,” but assured Biden that “most of Santa’s products are being shipped to consumers.”
The problems in the supply chain are largely due to the pandemic: Americans, filled with cash from business stimulus checks and a booming stock market, were freely spending on everything from electronics to furniture to new clothes. But the surge in consumer demand took many suppliers by surprise – who expected demand to collapse as the economy plunged into the worst recession in nearly a century – and resulted in goods shortages in the US and much of the world.
Rising demand, coupled with congestion in ports and warehouses, has caused the highest inflation in four decades and further confused the White House. Biden has made efforts to contain inflation by addressing issues in the supply chain, including fixing port congestion and extending trucker hours.
To bring prices down at the pump, Biden ordered a record-breaking 50 million barrels of oil from the country’s strategic petroleum reserve, a decision made in coordination with other major energy-consuming countries such as India, the UK and China.
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The president has also asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into that oil and gas Businesses commit criminal behavior by profiting from artificially high prices at the pump even if wholesale fuel prices are falling.
The White House noted on Wednesday that fuel prices fell an average of 12 cents a gallon to $ 3.30, but said that Biden “believes they are too high, especially given that we are recovering from a pandemic of the century ”.