White House aims to boost supply chain information sharing


U.S. Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) – The White House on Tuesday unveiled a new pilot effort to help eliminate supply chain bottlenecks at congested U.S. ports by enticing truckers, shippers, wholesalers, retailers and other businesses to share information.

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

The White House said “lack of digital infrastructure and transparency makes our supply chains fragile and unable to adapt in the face of shock” and said improved information sharing is crucial as a “lack of information exchange can lead to delays as freight moves from one link in the supply chain to another, driving up costs and increasing the fragility of goods movement.”

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The effort includes 18 initial participants, including FedEx (FDX.N), UPS (UPS.N), Albertsons (ACI.N), Target (TGT.N) as well as the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and Georgia Ports Authority and CMA CGM and MSC Shipping Carriers and Fenix ​​Marine Terminal and Global Container Terminals.

Buttigieg noted that 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 that kind of sharing, but we also know it has to happen,” Buttigieg said at a White House event.

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

Growth rates have slowed from the outsized numbers we saw last year, but volume is near the highest we’ve ever seen. Everyone in the supply chain is trying to reduce congestion , but there is still work to be done,” the 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” aimed at “alleviating 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 the worst fears of 2021 have not materialized. “Christmas actually hasn’t been cancelled.” Buttigieg said.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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