With all the shipping problems in the US news recently, News Five wanted to find out if Belizeans can expect problems with our own supply chains, especially for the upcoming holiday shopping. It is an important question because in 2020, Belize imported over one point five billion dollars in goods. Just about half of these goods came from the United States of America. There is a possibility that the disruption in the global supply chain, caused by a record backlog of cargo ships in the U.S could have an effect on Belize. But, the local market is not raising any alarms just yet. So far, the traditional routes used to ship items into Belize are not experiencing any problems. According to CEO at the Port of Belize Andy Lane, the disruption is largely on the West Coast of the U.S. Lane told us that Belize is connected to the world mainly through Kingston, Jamaica, and Kingston seems to be doing well. Additionally, Lane says, the Port of Belize's volume remains down by twelve to fourteen percent of the twenty nineteen volumes, which means the Port has the capacity to absorb any surge at this time.
Andy Lane, CEO, Port of Belize Limited
"The backlog that catches everybody's attention is that of California, and it has been like that for nine months and it will be like that for nine more months. There has been some spread of congestion onto the East Coast, Savannah and New York suffering a little bit. And then, you have some Ports in Europe and occasionally Ports in Asia are also getting slowed from time to time. But, Kingston which is basically Belize's gateway to the world, that is largely unaffected. They seem to have ample capacity and they seem to be working at a reasonably efficient level right now. So this is not likely to spread wide scale and impact Belize dramatically. By my calculations I think we have fifty five to sixty TEU of yard capacity, or we have yard capacity that will support fifty five to sixty thousand TEU. Last year we did thirty six thousand TEU and this year we are headed somewhere around thirty nine thousand TEU. So we have the yard capacity. Our constraints tend to be the fact that our little sixty seven meter berth and we only have space for one ship at a time. That is sufficient to deal with the present level of demands. Where it gets a bit tricky is when we get ships bunching and arriving at the same time. Then we will see delays of some ships which has to wait for earlier arriving ships to get worked and clear the port."
BCCI Says Supply Chain Issues Not a Problem Just Yet
News Five also spoke to Vice President at the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Marcello Blake, on what the business community is saying about the state of the global supply chain as we enter the holiday season.
Marcello Blake, VP, BCCI
"At this point our members have not reach out indicating anything to that effect, that in fact they are being impacted just yet. However, if the situation prolongs we can anticipate that there may be some impact to Belize. When we look at what is happening there, while we had our members on our BP show last week, we were discussing the same matter on a global scale. What was highlighted in that discussion was that, trading in the region, CARICOM, Central America, U.S. was minimally impacted by the global trend. What we say is that a lot of the products come out of Europe and Asia where they were issues being faced there, both from a sourcing stand point and its availability to the shipping and shipping lines. As you mention shelves, what we can accept that in some cases we are seeing fewer brands of certain products on the shelves. So, some of your preferred brands may not necessarily be available every time you got to the shelves. And, those are all impacts coming from not only shipping, but also the supply and demand aspect where our members are searching or trying to bring in certain products, but that product is not available to get into country as they would want. The other thing there is you also have to consider the cost of bringing products in. While we spoke about the congestion in California, quite a bit of our products come out of Europe and Asia and the shipping cost is going through the roof. So that also contributed to price increases. But it also has an element, where we can try and agitate with government to consider some kind of relief, which is the freight charge that is included in the way duties are calculated."