Exporter Roundtable - Feel the Pain

Published on 1 December 2021 at 15:51

The Mid-Atlantic Regional District Export Councils Host Exporter Roundtable


For Immediate Release

Contact Name: Aisha Jones

Email: Aisha.Jones@trade.gov

The Mid-Atlantic Regional District Export Councils Host Exporter Roundtable

November 18, 2021. The congestion at the ports continues unabated and supply chain disruption grows more complicated, raising significant economic international challenges. “What we are experiencing today is a different type of traffic jam, one that has an impact on international trade and the entire global supply chain. Everyone is affected – from families sitting at their kitchen tables to CEOs in the board room,” said Michael Ford, Chair of the Mid-Atlantic District Export Council and program facilitator, in his opening remarks.


An important webinar targets a world-wide challenge

In order to address the significant concerns raised by those dealing with ocean, rail, air, and truck transportation unprecedented congestion, the Mid-Atlantic Regional District Export Councils, including eight District Export Councils covering New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, joined together on November 18 to host a webinar. The primary goal of the program was to inform everyone regarding the greatest challenges and possible solutions to this evolving situation.

The view from the trenches

The agenda for this special session was designed to provide timely, critical updates from various perspectives, including key insights from the Department of Transportation on the newly passed, bi-partisan infrastructure package which will address the disruptions at ports and the need for resiliency in our supply chain.

Heather Sykes, Director of the Office of Supply Chain, Professional, and Business Services at the Department of Commerce, discussed concerns over emerging trends leading to the current severe congestion, such as the large increase in containerized imports and the move to ‘just in case’ ordering, and their implications for storage and transportation of imported goods from the ports to the consumer. Heather also noted the large cost increases of transporting goods into and out of the United States.

In addition, five real-world case studies were presented by local manufacturers and brokers and freight forwarders who are experiencing these global challenges first-hand.  Ken Sanchez, Jim Flaherty, Allan Klinge, Chas Watson and Steven Hollander presented a range of topics from pivoting to new shipping options, such as shifting to sending smaller packages by air, to seeking solutions for working with shipping companies to bring down the drastically rising costs of containers and manage the high costs of shipping. These east coast business owners, along with their west coast colleagues, shared their recent experiences but at the same time, were actively searching for reasonable alternatives and effective solutions.  Despite the pessimism around obstacles such as rapidly increasing costs, idle drivers and trucks, layoffs, canceled orders, lack of storage space and the poor customer service that can all result from undependable scheduling, a positive outlook was also expressed by some.  As Jim Flaherty concluded after all the experiences had been shared, “We’ll get through it simply by working a little harder, a lot smarter, and together.”

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