Thanks to the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, the global economy is slowly starting to emerge from the pandemic.
But Covid-19 has left one very destructive economic issue in its wake: disruption to global supply chains.
The rapid spread of the virus in 2020 prompted shutdowns of industries around the world and, while most of us were in lockdown, there was lower consumer demand and reduced industrial activity.
As lockdowns have lifted, demand has rocketed. And supply chains that were disrupted during the global health crisis are still facing huge challenges and are struggling to bounce back.
This has led to chaos for the manufacturers and distributors of goods who cannot produce or supply as much as they did pre-pandemic for a variety of reasons, including worker shortages and a lack of key components and raw materials.
Different parts of the world have experienced supply chain issues that have been exacerbated for different reasons, too. For instance, power shortages in China have affected production in recent months, while in the U.K., Brexit has been a big factor around a shortage of truck drivers. The U.S. is also battling a shortage of truckers, as is Germany, with the former also experiencing large backlogs at its ports. Read more: As the U.K. battles food, fuel and labor crises, Boris Johnson promises change
Situation ‘will get worse’
Unfortunately, experts like Tim Uy of Moody’s Analytics say that supply chain problems “will get worse before they get better.” “As the global economic recovery continues to gather steam, what is increasingly apparent is how it will be stymied by supply-chain disruptions that are now showing up at every corner,” Uy said in a report last Monday.
“Border controls and mobility restrictions, unavailability of a global vaccine pass, and pent-up demand from being stuck at home have combined for a perfect storm where global production will be hampered because deliveries are not made in time, costs and prices will rise, and GDP growth worldwide will not be as robust as a result,” he said.
“Supply will likely play catch up for some time, particularly as there are bottlenecks in every link of the supply chain—labor certainly, as mentioned above, but also containers, shipping, ports, trucks, railroads, air and warehouses.”
Supply chain bottlenecks — congestion and blockages in the production system — have affected a variety of sectors, services and goods ranging from shortages of electronics and autos (with problems exacerbated by the well-known semiconductor chip shortage) to difficulties in the supplies of meat, medicines and household products. Amid higher consumer demand for goods that have been in short supply, freight rates for merchandise coming from China to the U.S. and Europe have soared, while a shortage of truck drivers across both the latter regions has exacerbated the problem of getting goods to their final destinations, and has led to high prices once those products hit store shelves. The pandemic has only served to highlight how interconnected, and how easily destabilized, global supply chains can be.