Even as President Biden urges American ports to operate 24/7 to relieve the congestion and clear massive backlogs, other ports around the world are suffering from the same pileups of containers and ships clogging their operations.
In Asia, manufacturing hubs like Vietnam are just emerging from a wave of the coronavirus, causing a disruption in production. While China is also facing an energy crunch leading to shutdowns at manufacturing hubs and ports, as well as typhoons that shut down operations and brought about a record number of ships queued around Hong Kong and Shenzhen earlier in October.
At the same time, back on the US side efforts to clear the backlog have had spotty success even with the new 24/7 operations. As of last week, more than 70 container ships were anchored off the Los Angeles coast, carrying a total of around half a million containers. Meanwhile, only 40% of the vessels arriving at the Long Beach port are running on schedule, causing further delays in unloading them and getting goods to their final destination.
All told, it’s estimated that 77% of ports around the world are experiencing abnormally long times to turnaround traffic, and as 2021 has repeatedly demonstrated, a bottleneck in one corner of the globe eventually increases backlogs or shortages in another. So with almost every major port in the world currently experiencing high congestion, it’s looking more and more likely that Christmas could get stuck on a shipping container this year.