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Walmart, FedEx, UPS will scale up operations to ease supply chain bottlenecks, says Biden

Washington — President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that the three largest US freight carriers, Walmart, FedEx and UPS, will intensify its efforts to address supply chain issues, retailers have already started warning that some products may not make it to shelves before the holidays.

“Our country and our economy should ever be unable to make the important product we need, because we don’t have access to the materials to make that product,” Biden said during a speech on Wednesday. “Never again should we rely too much on one company or one country or one person in the world, especially when it comes to labor and environmental standards. Countries don’t share our values.”

Senior administration officials said on a call Tuesday evening that carriers would “make a commitment toward operating 24/7 during off-peak hours” at major ports in Southern California.

Biden discussed congestion and extended hours at ports on Wednesday with leaders from the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach, California and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The White House also met with executives from Walmart, UPS and Home Depot about supply chain issues.

“The federal government will be a strong and willing participant in this effort in the near future, but also in rebuilding a better system for the 21st century,” the officials said. “We will be working with stakeholders in the supply chain for a 90-day sprint by the end of the year to address several bottlenecks that we can address quickly.”

Logistics backup at shipping ports, driven by labor shortages and the Covid outbreak, has doubled the time it takes for some products to make their way from Asia to the Americas.

Delays, which have persisted for months, have left retailers scrambling to clear roadblocks, including planes Ahead of the holiday shopping season, ship your own private cargo to tackle the overcrowding.

UPS and FedEx shipped 40 percent of U.S. packages by volume last year, and by taking this step, “they’re telling the rest of the supply chain that you need to move this, let’s move it,” officials said.

Other retailers such as Target, Samsung and Home Depot will also assist with the backlog, which “paves the way for even smaller retailers to get goods off the model 24/7,” officials said.

Top administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have said consumers could see higher prices and product shortages for the rest of the year as the market works through supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages.

The White House announced in June that it would establish a task force to address supply chain challenges in key areas where “a mismatch between supply and demand is evident.”

Task Force, which is “Homebuilding and Construction, semiconductors, transportation, and agriculture and food,” will be headed by the secretaries of commerce, agriculture and transportation, the White House said at the time.

Shannon Pettypiece has contributed.

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