The shipping crisis and growing trade deficit have several key causes.
The pandemic, of course, caused an abrupt stoppage in all things manufacturing.
The shortage of shipping containers made it difficult to import goods from East Asia.
The rising shipping costs contribute to shortages as well as inflation – it’s triple the price now, compared with 2019, to bring a container from China/East Asia to the West Coast, according to the Freightos Baltic Index.
The ports became clogged as the economy began to reopen, and here we are, desperately hoping the clog clears the way to accommodate everyday increasing demand.
An NPR.org story referenced one area, Whidbey Island, Wash. — a half-hour north of Seattle – where the effects are being felt.
Residents have to deal with a growing number of massive container ships anchored nearby.
“We’ve never seen them this close before,” a Whidbey Islander told a local news station in the NPR story. “We’re hearing the throbbing noise at night. … It’s a nuisance.”
The record U.S. trade deficit troubles have resulted in so much cargo being shipped from Asia that Seattle and Tacoma ports are at capacity with container ships.
CEO of Vespucci Maritime Lars Jensen, who has spent 20 years studying the industry, told NPR this is unique. “The container shipping industry is in a state of chaos that I don’t think it has ever been since it was invented,” he said.
As the U.S. Coast Guard redirects ships to anchor outside of their intended destinations – such as Whidbey Islands waters – the crews are having to wait days, even weeks, before completing their deliveries.
In San Francisco Bay, according to Robert Blomerth, director of the USCG’s San Francisco Vessel Traffic Service via the NPR story, there were 16 container ships waiting in the open ocean (not even allowed into the Bay). He told NPR it’s “completely abnormal.”
The NPR report concluded that things are not going to improve any time soon, and could affect the holiday shipping season adversely.
The pandemic just keeps on giving.