LONDON (AP) – A standoff at Britain’s busiest commercial port raised concerns on Wednesday that the country could see shortages of toys and food during the critical period of the Christmas holiday.
Concerns have risen in recent weeks that the UK’s economic recovery is being hit by widespread shortages, seen most clearly in long lines at gas stations and some empty shelves at supermarkets.
The disruption is clearly visible at the East England port of Felixstow, Britain’s largest commercial port. A bottleneck of containers at the port, which accounts for 36 per cent of the UK’s freight container volume, has been blamed for a lack of drivers.
The creation of the cargo has prompted shipping company Maersk to move some of its largest ships away from UK ports to other locations in Europe, where it uses smaller vessels to receive deliveries in the UK.
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“With Felixstowe handling around 40 per cent of all containers to and from the UK, this adds even more imbalance to the UK supply chain, especially in the current peak consumer period we are entering before Christmas,” said Alex Hersham, chief executive officer of Zencargo, a London-based digital freight forwarding company.
“It is essential that retailers and consumers prepare for an extended disruption in the supply chain and plan for how these issues will impact Christmas,” he said.
While similar disruptions have been seen in other countries around the world, the UK is facing particularly serious problems due to a shortage of truck drivers. The reasons are wide-ranging, but it is clear that the combination of Britain’s departure from the EU and the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many EU workers to leave the UK and go home.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said the lack of a crowd driver at Felixstow had “yet another unwanted side effect” and “further disruption may be inevitable.”
Britain’s Conservative government has tried to reduce the possibility of a shortage of many goods on Christmas. The government says it is accelerating efforts to train more domestic truck drivers and is offering a few thousand short-term visas to foreign drivers, although some have accepted the offer as the visas last only a few months. Lasts long.
Opie of the British Retail Consortium said, “The expansion of the temporary visa scheme to increase the pool of drivers available will provide a short-term solution to these problems, and the government will need to act quickly to prevent further disruption to consumers in the coming months.” should work.”
The shortage of products and drivers comes at a time when the UK’s economic recovery is already losing momentum as a result of supply chain issues.
The Office for National Statistics said the economy posted 0.4 per cent growth in August as bars, restaurants and festivals benefited from the first full month without coronavirus restrictions in England, but growth was slightly lower than expected. The agency revised its July figure to a 0.1 percent decline from a 0.1 percent increase as a result of weak data from several industries.
Earlier this year, it was expected that the British economy would recover all of its COVID-19-related losses by the end of 2021, but that is now in question. By the end of August, the British economy remained 0.8 percent below its pre-pandemic level since February 2020.
Inflation, low productivity levels, high taxes and an uncertain COVID-19 backdrop are set to increase the burden on growth during the coming months.
The International Monetary Fund predicted on Tuesday that the UK would grow 6.8 per cent this year, more than any other group of seven industrialized nations, and a still high 5 per cent next year. However, the British economy experienced the worst recession among all G-7 members in 2020, shrinking by 9.8 percent.