Webinar to examine national response to COVID-19 supply chain crisis

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Between supply shortages as a result of lockdowns or border closures in lead export countries and recent bottlenecks in supply due to increased global demand, local industries are burdened with a global supply-chain crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Considering the impact of this crisis on local business, consumer engagement and national development, TCL Group will host a webinar under the theme “Supply-Chain Crunch: Our Next Economic Crisis?”

The free webinar, scheduled for Wednesday, December 1, 10am to 12pm, will feature Gilbert Morris, Economist and Author; Kenneth Hutton, President, Abaco Chamber of Commerce; Thomas Sands, President, Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce; Michael Pratt, President, Bahamas Contractors’ Association and Tiffani Evans, Director of Merchandising, Sysco Bahamas Food Services.

K Karlos Mackey, President, Prime Financing and Consulting will host the webinar.

According to Mackey, the supply-chain crisis is due to multifaceted disruptions in marine shipping.

“Food, medical supplies, building supplies—almost every product that you can think of moves by marine shipping. Over the past several months, particularly with the pandemic in the United States, you’ve had a lack of workers in the logistics industry which includes shipping, truck drivers and longshoremen or stevedores,” he said.

“You now have at ports in the United States—primarily on the West Coast but also on the East Coast in places like Savannah, Georgia and Mobile, Alabama—large amounts of ships that are idling off the coast. And therefore, you also have a lack of containers that are available for shipping. So, you now have a situation where not only is it taking longer to ship, it is also more costly to ship because the amount of containers that would have been available are now staying out for 45, 60 days longer than they normally would be.”

The trickledown effect has been far-reaching, with the end consumer inheriting significant increases in prices and longer wait times for certain goods. For example, companies in the local construction industry were some of the first businesses forced to pass high costs  to their patrons.

Earlier this year, panelist Michael Pratt told local media that the costs of some building supplies had tripled and once accessible cement blocks were hard to find. He then projected that the construction industry should prepare to face 2-3 years of supply shortages and price hikes.

“My position hasn’t changed,” Pratt said.

“There is no guarantee exactly when the industry will get back to normal, but we know that it won’t happen overnight. Right now, there are so many ships on the coast of California with supplies from Asia. The challenge is getting the supplies off of those ships and to us, especially when there are no trucks to move the supplies. People are dying, so the priority is moving vaccines and medical supplies. That has caused a backup with moving other products. We get the majority of our supplies from the [United States}, so whatever happens there affects us. When one aspect of the chain is shut down, you see a domino effect.” 

“Manufacturers are closely watching the new waves of the [corona]virus and they are reluctant to manufacture more supplies. You also have major contractors in the [United States] who have been hoarding supplies to ensure that their project is not hampered. The cost are some supplies are above and beyond the usual cost. Just imagine the massive ripple effect,” he added.