New Castle, DE, May 18, 2021—At World Trade Center Delaware’s online event, “Getting Your Goods from Here to There: Lessons Learned from the Ever Given” on May 18, U. S. Senator Tom Carper opened the discussion on the hot topic of how legislators, industry leaders and local businesses can work together to prevent and prepare for international trade supply chain disruptions caused by seaport, airport, or trucking congestion, shortages, and delays. These disruptions directly affect the price of and availability of products to consumers. The event was hosted as part of “World Trade Month”, celebrated each May across the globe.
Senator Tom Carper and a panel of distinguished guests spoke about international shipping and trade issues and challenges coming out of the COVID -19 pandemic and the ripple effect across the globe of the grounding of the super container ship Ever Given, as well as the even more recent effects of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown that included shortages of gasoline and price hikes for what was available.
Sen. Carper, now chair of the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, said he is actively looking into new legislation to promote job creation and preservation to support international trade, especially on the state and local levels for facilities like the Port of Wilmington and to “make sure they get what they need.” He noted legislation also is being drafted to correct unemployment insurance and to create additional Transpacific trade agreements that will benefit U.S. companies, such as the USMCA.
Michael Ford VP, Government & Industry Affairs, BDP International, showed how the grounding of the Ever Given had a “huge ripple effect throughout the supply chain.” He recommended that there be a renewed focus on improving the infrastructure of the ports and waterways, the need for heightened security, reliability and reduced risk when it comes to international trade. He also addressed the current labor shortage at airports and ports due to COVID-19 and increased unemployment that’s resulted. “We need to motivate workers to come back to work,” he said.
Another panelist, Dennis Rochford President, Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River & Bay, recommended that seafarers on ships coming to the U. S. as well as employees working at airports and ports be considered “essential workers” and that their COVID immunizations be made a priority. And Anabel Panayotti President, Port to Port International, gave a case study of how her company has dealt with delayed shipments and order fulfillments as a result of the Ever Given catastrophe and the pandemic, but how businesses like hers need to learn, regroup, adapt and go forward from it. “I’m confident we will move forward,” Panayotti said. “We need to educate clients so that they know everyone is having some issue, but we need to still be positive.”
World Trade Center Delaware President Carla Stone moderated the panel discussion and networking session and said fortunately Delaware has a major advantage when it comes to international trade: “there is only one stop light between Delaware and Canada, Florida, or Chicago” along Interstate 95. She called the virtual panel event “just a beginning” of discussions to come.