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Maritime Logistics Professional

March 15, 2022

White House Aims to Boost Supply Chain Information Sharing

© yaniv / Adobe Stock

© yaniv / Adobe Stock

The White House on Tuesday unveiled a new pilot effort to help clear supply chain bottlenecks at congested U.S. ports by getting truckers, shippers, wholesalers, retailers and other businesses to share information.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese launched the Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW), an information sharing initiative "to pilot key freight information exchange between parts of the goods movement supply chain."

The White House said "the lack of digital infrastructure and transparency makes our supply chains brittle and unable to adapt when faced with a shock" and said it was crucial to improve information sharing because a "lack of information exchange can cause delays as cargo moves from one part of the supply chain to another, driving up costs and increasing goods movement fragility."

The effort includes 18 initial participants including FedEx, UPS, Albertsons, Target as well as the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and Georgia Ports Authority and Ocean Carriers CMA CGM and MSC and Fenix Marine Terminal and Global Container Terminals.

Buttigieg noted U.S. supply chains are mostly private or locally owned and this new effort required a public partnership.

"If it doesn't work on a handshake it doesn't work. Nobody can command this kind of sharing but we also know it needs to happen," Buttigieg said at a White House event.

Last week, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said imports at the major U.S. retail container ports are expected to be at near-record levels this spring and summer as consumer demand and supply chain challenges continue to spark congestion.

"Growth rates have slowed down from the off-the-charts numbers we saw last year, but volume is close to the highest we’ve ever seen. Everyone in the supply chain is trying to reduce congestion, but there is still work to be done," NRF said.

The White House said the 18 participants will work to develop a "proof-of-concept freight information exchange by the end of the summer" aiming "to ease supply chain congestion."

President Joe Biden created a task force in June to address high prices and shortages of consumer goods and crucial components, thanks to pandemic-related labor and demand issues.

Buttigieg noted Tuesday that 2021 worst case fears did not materialize. "Christmas was not in fact canceled." Buttigieg said.

(Reuters - Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio)