The line of more than 80 container vessels waiting to berth at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California appears to have been cut in half in late November or so. The ship that disappeared from her line turned out to be just hiding from her and wandering in the Pacific beyond the official number range. The actual bottleneck was 96 ships in the middle of the week.
In a recurring theme of the economy from Germany to the United States, progress in overcoming this supply bottleneck turned out to be a mirage.
In a year when the supply chain went awry, logistics experts struggled to distinguish between the light of true improvement and the false dawn. While optimists are right to see the climax of traffic collapse, the fragile world trade system faces additional pain over months and can collapse again even after an unexpected shock.
Jennifer Bisceglie, CEO of Interos, a supply chain risk management company based in Arlington, Virginia, said, She sees a full return to normal as a transition from 18 to 24 months as companies are tackling pandemic challenges and strengthening their supplier network through digitalization.
Signs of the beginning of a turnaround include a report released this week by Oxford Economics showing that pressure in the US supply chain was eased in November. However, the aftermath of a new variant of the coronavirus that caused another limitation ahead of the Christmas travel season “may slow down the pace of solving supply chain problems and undermine previous progress,” he said.
“It’s too early to say that we’ve seen a peak in supply chain disruption,” said Oren Crackin, senior US economist at Oxford Economics. “The situation is very fluid and the Omicron variant can make the situation even worse.”
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