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Global Cargo Logjam Deepens, Delaying Goods Bound For Retailers, Automakers


LOS ANGELES/LONDON (Reuters) – Amazon seller Bernie Thompson shifted half of his production out of China to reduce his business risks and still found himself in the crosshairs of logistical chaos besetting the movement of goods around the globe.

A surge in demand for furniture, exercise equipment and other goods for shoppers sheltering at home in a worsening COVID-19 pandemic has upended normal trade flows.

That has stranded empty cargo containers in the wrong places, spawning bottlenecks that now stretch from factories to seaports. Container ship operators ferry the majority of consumer goods, and transportation and trade sources warn that prolonged industry disruption could cause shortages and complicate the global economic recovery. Thompson, founder of Washington-based Plugable Technologies, sells work-from-home staples like laptop docking stations. He diversified sourcing to be less reliant on a single country for manufacturing and less exposed to U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

Things did not go as planned and now, like many other importers, he is concerned about keeping enough product in stock. “We’ve moved production out of China and moved ourselves right into a disadvantage,” said Thompson.

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