by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In 2021, the world’s supply chains felt the weight of increasing global demand. Here are the supply chain stories that dominated headlines over the past 12 months.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has primarily been a public health matter, government restrictions and changes to how supply chains operate wreaked havoc on the economy. These downstream effects were particularly felt as the United States approached the holidays and shoppers looked to stores and online vendors to buy goods.
For about a week in March, the world focused squarely on a small section of the Suez Canal, the Egyptian channel that 12% of the world’s goods pass through. A massive 200,000-ton cargo ship known as Ever Given got stuck in the canal, backing up hundreds of other ships and costing the world about $9.6 billion in trade each day — or about $6.7 million per minute. …
… China, where COVID-19 originated, has taken a strong, almost draconian stance against new outbreaks since the pandemic began. That hard line was seen publicly over the summer when the country partially closed the world’s third-busiest port after a single worker contracted COVID-19. …
… One of the most visceral representations of the supply chain crisis was the images of dozens of ships moored off the coast of California eagerly waiting to unload their goods. The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach account for roughly 40% of U.S. imports, so having them backed up created headaches all across the country’s supply chain.
The problem was compounded because of the lack of port workers and truckers to take the goods and move them out of the port and because of surging demand in 2021 as people emerged from their virus-induced isolation and returned to normal purchasing habits.