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Delta Variant, Natural Disasters Strain Global Supply Chains

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Supply chains connecting the world’s economies are at or near the breaking point due to the COVID-19 surge, natural disasters in Asia and Europe and a potent cyberattack in South Africa, Reuters reported.

Experts said the combined effect of the forces is significant disruption of the flow of consumer goods and materials essential to manufacturing, according to Reuters. In some ways, it looks like 2020 all over again.

In ports, limits on crew disembarking imposed by pandemic-weary local authorities have badly interrupted the rotation of crews necessary to keep ships sailing, Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, told Reuters.

“We’re no longer on the cusp of a second crew change crisis, we’re in one,” he said, per the report. “This is a perilous moment for global supply chains.”

According to Reuters, about 90 percent of global trade travels by ship.

German container line Hapag Lloyd told Reuters the situation is “extremely challenging.”

“Vessel capacity is very tight, empty containers are scarce and the operational situation at certain ports and terminals is not really improving,” Hapag Lloyd said, per Reuters. “We expect this to last probably into the fourth quarter — but it is very difficult to predict.”

In China and Germany, the problem is floods, according to Reuters. Floods in China have interrupted the shipping of coal from mines to power plants that need it. In Germany, roads have been washed out since July 11.

Nick Klein, vice president for Midwest Sales and Marketing at OEC Group, which handles Taiwan freight and logistics, told Reuters companies are struggling to get goods from Taiwanese ports to U.S. ports.

“It’s not going to clear up until March,” he said, per Reuters.

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