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Biden Administration Moves to Support Ports

President Biden has engaged recently with private-sector partners to address bottlenecks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, based on recommendations from his administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force.

The challenge: Major ports in the United States have been facing serious congestion issues for nearly a year, rooted in a shortage of port workers and shipping containers and an influx of cargo transiting through West Coast ports to and from Asian markets. As a result, manufacturers up and down the supply chain have found their shipments delayed for weeks or even months at a time, shipping costs have skyrocketed, and many companies face enormous difficulty getting their products to international markets.

The action: Working with industrial and retail partners, the Biden administration recently announced a range of actions to help shore up supply chains and reduce blockages at critical ports.

  • Extended hours: The Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach has shifted to round-the-clock operations, opening terminals and port facilities for 24/7 access. 
  • Expanded workforce: The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has agreed to work expanded hours and extra shifts, providing a boost of personnel for additional ocean freight movement.
  • Shifted times: Large companies have agreed to take advantage of off-peak hours to move goods, freeing up space during traditional times of congestion and allowing products to be loaded and unloaded during low-traffic periods.

More help needed: There’s certainly more to do—and these steps will not solve all the underlying issues within the larger supply chain. However, these actions do provide temporary support at a critical time, helping unblock vital ports and move backlogged goods with greater efficiency.

What we’re doing: For the past several months, the NAM has worked with member companies and federal policymakers to offer solutions to the challenges facing the ocean shipping supply chain. The NAM has built momentum through its collaboration with federal agencies and congressional allies, and the recent White House meeting is only the most recent sign that such engagement is making a difference.

  • This month, the NAM is launching a Port and Ocean Shipping Task Force. This working group will provide a forum for industry dialogue and further engagement with federal policymakers on both short- and long-term actions. If you or a colleague are interested in participating in this new task force, please email NAM Director of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy Ben Siegrist.

What we’re saying: “We’re excited to see the White House take a more active role in addressing the issues that manufacturers have been facing at the ports for almost a year,” said Siegrist. “NAM members are well aware of the impact that port delays and cargo backups have on their ability to provide essential goods to American households and keep consumer prices competitive. We look forward to continuing to engage with officials across the government through the efforts of our new Port and Ocean Shipping Task Force.”

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