Global Supply Chain Challenges  | 4 MIN READ

Prior to 2020, it seemed that the global supply chain was a well-oiled machine, hardly experiencing any major difficulties.  If you asked a supplier back then for a price quote on securing a 40’ container from Asia, you knew the range of what it would cost.  The delta between a ‘high’ price and a ‘low’ price could have only ranged $100-$200.  Since then, it seems the global supply chain can’t seem to find a path back to the “good ol’ days” as it desperately searches for ways to improve the overall situation. 

Now, when you ask for that same price quote for a 40’ container, you might see a delta between a ‘high’ and ‘low’ price be $1000- $3000.  Prior to 2020, you could always rely on a shipment arriving at port on the date it was supposed to and if there was a delay, it might only be 24-48 hours.

 Now, it’s almost expected that an initial ETA that gets communicated by the supplier will change, at minimum 1-3 times or more.  We are going to detail the reasons for this, featuring the three main issues that are causing global supply chain challenges across a variety of industries, including:

  • Stability of trade routes from Asia to East Coast/Gulf region of the United States
  • Potential for imbalance of containers from a global perspective
  • Labor contracts expiring in 2024

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Supply Chain Piracy in the Suez Canal

Stability of Trade Routes from Asia to East Coast/Gulf Regions of the U.S.

It has been well documented in the media about 2 main issues causing volatility in the length of time it is taking a shipping container to get from Asia to the east coast/gulf regions of the United States.

Were you aware that, as of the publishing of this article, four different freighters had been overtaken in the previous few months and the workers on these boats held hostage by pirates?  Can you imagine the publicity if instead of boats we were discussing this happening to people on an airplane? 

Even though attacks have declined, the status quo creates a lack of incentive for the threat of these attacks to diminish.  Attacks will continue to create difficulties for shipping companies trying to make real time decisions on whether they will risk going through the Suez Canal or take the safer alternative around South Africa.  Until this situation in the Middle East improves, there will continue to be volatility on transit times.

The latest regarding the Panama Canal draught is that the situation appears to be improving, but the canal isn’t expected to return to ‘normal’ operations until sometime in 2025.   This is based on assumptions being made about weather forecasts in the region and expected rainfall totals, making these predictions uncertain.

Potential for a Global Shipping Container Shortage

Since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 created global supply chain instability, we have seen the imbalance of containers globally cause spikes in pricing due to the limited containers that were available in different regions at a given point in time – simple supply and demand. 

Remember when Shanghai had severe covid restrictions, causing multiple ships to be stranded in their harbor?   

We all became familiar with the term “port congestion,” a term used to explain why a boat hadn’t unloaded its goods at port.   This had a massive ripple effect of delaying containers and causing shortages throughout the world.  With the United States recently announcing that they are introducing more tariffs on Chinese made products, we are on the precipice of a similar event occurring. 

What happens if China ramps up exports before the tariffs go into effect, but once these containers arrive in the USA, there isn’t enough demand to go back into these containers and get shipped to other parts of the world? 

This will ultimately cause a shortage of containers in other regions as shipping companies aren’t interested in putting empty containers on their boats. Empty containers create losses on these shipments.  This imbalance will cause prices to be very volatile as it will be a long-term process to get these containers redistributed around the world.

Labor Contracts expiring in 2024

Even with everything previously listed, once material makes it to the United States on a vessel, there is the potential later in 2024 that no one will be onshore to offload these goods from the vessel in the east coast and Gulf regions. 

There is a September 30th deadline looming for these regions to get a contract agreed upon between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance.  In the past, these unions have been less likely to strike versus their counterparts on the west coast, but this negotiation will be different.  

Related to the piracy within the Suez Canal and drought in Panama, the dynamic of more shipments going towards the west coast and away from gulf/east coast ports continues to increase due to Suez/Panama Canal difficulties and could cause a much different stance taken by the union to protect their jobs. 

At the time of this article, this deadline is four months away, but it is an issue which yet again can provide more difficulties in securing on-time arrivals of material from other regions of the world.


The global supply chain continues to provide a dizzying array of challenges to all those affected by these headwinds mentioned above.  At Hailide America, we continue to do our best to stay on top of these issues and are dedicated to keeping our customers updated with the latest information. This allows everyone to make the best decisions possible when arranging for industrial polyester yarns and other materials to be shipped from Vietnam and China to the United States.

If you’re interested in learning more about how global supply chains are being affected, and more importantly, what can be done to mitigate these concerns, reach out to Hailide America today to learn more.