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    West Coast ports to stay open 24/7 under U.S. plan to relieve supply chain issues

    Oct. 13 (UPI) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday will announce a plan designed to unravel supply chain bottlenecks at two of the largest ports in the United States that are leaving many cargo ships at sea with nowhere to go.

    Under the plan, major ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., will run for 24 hours a day and couriers like FedEx and retailers like Walmart will expand their hours to relieve the slowdowns.

    “We helped broker an agreement for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which, together, handle 40% of the container traffic that enters our country to expand hours of operation,” a senior administration official told reporters.

    “Since then, we’ve seen a recent announcement from the Port of Los Angeles in much shorter dwell times. That’s the time that containers spend not moving.”

    The bottlenecks have forced dozens of cargo ships bound for the United States to remain off the coast of Southern California and wait for an opening. Images of the ships in limbo have circulated in news reports and on social media.

    The White House plan has the cooperation of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, whose leaders and port officials will meet with Biden’s top officials on Wednesday. The ILWU says its members are willing to work extra shifts to ease the crisis.

    Six companies are part of the plan — Walmart, FedEx, UPS, Target, Home Depot and Samsung.

    “Across these six companies over 3,500 additional containers per week will move at night through the end of the year,” the White House said in a statement.

    The administration said it’s also trying to assist in a truck driver shortage by supporting state motor vehicle departments.

    “In 2021, an average of 50,000 commercial drivers licenses and learner’s permits have been issued each month, 60% higher than the 2020 numbers,” the official said. “The supply chain is essentially in the hands of the private sector, so we need the private sector to up to help solve problems.”

    “These are major commitments, but they’re most effective when every private company along the supply chain does the same thing,” they added. “And now we’re looking to trucking and freight to expand hours as well to help with bottlenecks.”

    While the plan addresses a short-term fix, the White House said a larger problem of ports, freight rail and roads lacking the capacity they need to move goods must also be addressed.

    “Put simply, much of the shipping and freight infrastructure was built decades or even generations ago, and Americans are importing and exporting far more than we did back then,” the official said.

    In June, Biden created a supply chain task force to help resolve the matter and find ways to ease the bottlenecks, which are affecting a wide range of products like semiconductor chips and other key goods.

    “Through August, Los Angeles has moved 30% more and Long Beach over 20% more containers to help U.S. exporters reach customers around the world and U.S families and factories get the goods they need,” the White House added.

    UPI

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