Transport & Distribution

US supply chains face lengthy turmoil despite ports deal


US manufacturers, exporters and retailers face months of supply chain disruption from the after-effects of a labour dispute despite a return to work at west coast ports. The world's biggest container shipping line, port authorities and railroads all warned that conditions would remain difficult for months as workers began clearing huge backlogs of containers after a tentative deal over a new five-year contract was reached late last week. The agreement between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union followed nine months of talks. The dispute resulted in more than three months of unofficial go-slow operations, which produced what employers have called a 'gridlock' and raised concerns about a permanent loss of cargo. Maersk Line noted that there were unusually high numbers of loaded export containers waiting at US ports to head towards Asia. There were also scores of ships waiting offshore to unload, and significant pent-up demand to move goods, which is likely to produce a hard-to-manage spike in shipments.


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