Biden calms Americans' supply chain fears as holidays approach

Though he could not guarantee timely arrival of holiday packages, US president said that relief at the pump and ports is on the way

US President Joe Biden speaks on supply chain issues in Washington. AFP

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday tried to assure Americans that store “shelves are going to be stocked” for the holiday shopping season and that prices will lower eventually amid concerns over supply chain logjams and inflation.

Over the past month, the US reported record levels of inflation, resulting the biggest price gains in 21 years, some shortages with overwhelmed ports and higher gas prices as families hit the road in numbers not seen since the pandemic began.

“Just about every country in the world is grappling with higher prices right now as they recover from a pandemic,” Mr Biden said from the White House.

“This is a worldwide challenge and a natural by-product for a world economy shut down by the pandemic as it comes back to life.”

Mr Biden said high prices and inflation will only ease as the US and the world addresses the Covid-19 pandemic. He also used his remarks to encourage vaccinations and advise against alarm over the Omicron variant.

He met on Tuesday the heads of several large US companies, including Walmart, Best Buy, Samsung, QVC and others, to discuss supply chain issues.

The president exuded confidence that consumers will not face shortages this December, citing steps the Biden administration has taken to address delays in shipments and shortages.

He said logjams in the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach were relieved after 24-hour shifts were put into place and delivery drivers have been encouraged to do either night-time or weekend pickups.

The two ports handle 40 per cent of the country's shipments and are currently receiving 16 per cent more containers than in 2020.

“If you watch the news recently, you might think the shelves and all our stores are empty across the country that parents won't be able to get presents for their children this holiday season,” he said.

“But here's the deal: for the vast majority of the country, that's not what's happening because of the actions the administration has taken in partnership with business and labour, retailers and grocery stores, freight movers and railroads, and those shelves are going to be stocked.”

He met representatives of small businesses and large shipping companies in the US.

“I can't promise that every person will get every gift they want on time. Only Santa Claus can keep that promise,” he said.

In a further effort to ease prices, Biden administration in November released some 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's strategic petroleum reserve to help lower energy costs.

Updated: December 2nd 2021, 3:05 AM