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US Biden to meet with Cabinet secretaries and CEOs for progress report on supply chain problems

17:23  22 december  2021
17:23  22 december  2021 Source:   cnn.com

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President Joe Biden on Wednesday will get a progress report from members of his Cabinet and private sector CEOs on efforts to alleviate supply chain issues, lower consumer prices and keep shelves stocked amid the holiday season.

President Joe Biden speaks about the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the State Dining Room of the White House December 21, 2021 in Washington. © Drew Angerer/Getty Images President Joe Biden speaks about the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the State Dining Room of the White House December 21, 2021 in Washington.

The meeting comes as the Omicron variant threatens to put renewed pressure on global supply chains that were thrown into chaos amid the pandemic -- something the administration says it is watching closely.

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  LA port sees record 2021 imports despite supply chain snags LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Port of Los Angeles — the nation’s busiest — is on track to move a record volume of import cargo this year, even as officials struggle to thin a backup of ship traffic and ease supply chain snarls that have been blamed for product shortages and higher shelf prices. “The sustained and unmatched demand by the American consumer is pushing our import numbers to new levels,” Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told reporters in an online briefing. “We’re on track for an all-time import record in ... 2021.

The problems with global supply chains have spurred shortages of consumer products, raised prices for Americans and contributed significantly to historic levels of inflation in the United States.

The administration has taken several steps to address these issues, and there is evidence that bottlenecks are beginning to unclog. But businesses are still grappling with a shortage of truck drivers and some critical components, including computer chips, remain scarce.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Port Envoy John Porcari will all attend the meeting on Wednesday.

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Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx; Darren Hawkins, CEO of Yellow Corp; Christopher Connor, CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities; Sonia Syngal, CEO of GAP and Dave Harrison, executive director of Fastport, will attend the meeting as well.

Last month, Biden held a meeting with the CEOs of a number of major retailers and grocers to discuss the holiday shopping season. Following that meeting, the President assured Americans that shelves would be stocked and that the US was "heading into the holiday season in very strong shape."

The administration has taken several steps to address the supply chain issues. This week, the administration is announcing $230 million in Port Infrastructure Development Grants, which the White House says is the only federal grant program dedicated to port infrastructure. The administration also recently announced its Trucking Action Plan to recruit and retain more truck drivers by improving the quality of the job.

Americans looking for leadership on Covid find disappointment

  Americans looking for leadership on Covid find disappointment Americans can expect their governments, run by Republicans or Democrats, will be caught off guard by a pandemic. But as Covid-19 surges on, Washington has returned to its partisan sniping and general paralysis. Public health officials are warning of a tsunami of infections of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Infections could explode to unbelievable numbers. And even if the variant is less severe -- experts say to keep an eye on hospitalizations to gauge that -- a crush of infections that may be creeping around vaccines could still tax the health care system.

In October, Biden directed his administration to work with companies and ports on a "90-day sprint" to alleviate bottlenecks. The Port of Los Angeles was moved to 24/7 service, which brought it into line with operations at the Port of Long Beach, which is already working on a 24/7 schedule. Those two ports handle 40% of container traffic in the US.

The administration also worked with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last month to impose a fee on ocean carriers if their cargo sits on docks for more than eight days. The White House says since then, the number of containers sitting on the docks for more than eight days has fallen by nearly 50%. The White House also says the price of shipping a container between Asia and the West Coast has fallen by more than 25% since its peak in September.

In order to combat high energy prices, Biden directed the Department of Energy to release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve -- the largest release from the reserve in US history, Biden said. This release was announced to be in coordination with several other countries, including China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom. Officials believe the coordinated effort could potentially have more of an effect on lowering gas prices.

Joe Biden's 2022 challenges revolve around Covid, Russia and dealing with Congress .
President Joe Biden will return to the White House from an abbreviated winter break facing a set of hurdles that will test his political, diplomatic and management skills at a trying moment for his presidency. © Drew Angerer/Getty Images President Joe Biden speaks about the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the State Dining Room of the White House December 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. The raging pandemic, a crisis with Russia and uncertainty surrounding his prized domestic priorities all await Biden in the new year.

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