Oct 13, 2021
Joe Biden Addresses Supply Chain Bottlenecks Speech Transcript October 13
President Joe Biden spoke about global supply chain bottlenecks on October 13, 2021. Read the transcript of the speech briefing here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
And with the holidays coming up, you might be wondering if gifts you planned to buy will arrive on time. Well, let me explain. Supply chains essentially mean how we make things and how the material and parts get delivered to a factory so we can manufacture things and manufacture them here. How we move things, how a finished product moves from a factory to a store, to your home. And today we have an important announcement that we’ll get things you buy to you, to the shelves faster. I’m joined by the executive director of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Gene Seroka and [Mario Cordono 00:00:43]. Miss, I apologize, Mario. And the president of the International Longshoremen’s Union, Willie Adams.
Joe Biden: (00:56)
Los Angeles and Long Beach are home to two of the largest ports in America. And together, these ports are among the largest in the world. And the best way to make that point is that 40%, 40% of shipping containers that we import into this country come through these two ports. And today we have some good news, we’re going to help speed up the delivery of goods all across America. After weeks of negotiation and working with my team and with the major union retailers and freight movers, the Port of Los Angeles announced today that it’s going to begin operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This follows the Port of Long Beach’s commitment to 24/7 that it announced just weeks ago.
Joe Biden: (01:45)
24/7 system, what most of the leading countries in the world already operate on now except us until now. This is the first key step toward moving our entire freight transportation and logistical supply chain nationwide to a 24/7 system. And here’s why it matters. Traditionally, our ports have only been open during the week, Monday through Friday, and they’re generally closed down at nights and on weekends. By staying open seven days a week through the night and on the weekends, the Port of Los Angeles will open over 60 extra hours a week will be open. In total, that will almost double the number of hours that the port is open for business from earlier this year.
Joe Biden: (02:32)
That means an increase in the hours for workers to be moving cargo off ships onto trucks and rail cars to get to their destination. And more than that, the night hours are critical for increasing the movement of goods because highways are less crowded at night. In fact, during off peak hours in Los Angeles, cargo leaves the port at a 25% faster pace than during the day shift. So by increasing the number of late night hours of operation and opening up for less crowded hours when the goods can move faster, today’s announcement has the potential to be a game changer.
Joe Biden: (03:12)
I say potential because all of these goods won’t move by themselves. For the positive impact to be felt all across the country and by all of you at home, we need major retailers who order the goods and the freight movers who take the goods from the ships to factories and to stores to step up as well. These private sector companies are the ones that hire the trucks and rail cars and move the goods. On this score, we have some good news report as well. Today, Walmart, our nation’s largest retailer is committing to go all in on moving its products 24/7 from the ports to their stores nationwide.
Joe Biden: (04:00)
Specifically, Walmart is committing as much as a 50% increase in the use of off-peak hours over the next several weeks. Additionally, FedEx and UPS, two of our nation’s biggest freight movers are committing today to significantly increase the amount of goods they’re moving at night. FedEx and UPS are the shippers for some of our nation’s largest stores, but they also ship for tens of thousands of small businesses all across America. Their commitment to go all in on 24/7 operations means that businesses of all sizes will get their goods on shelves faster and more reliably. Accordingly, according to one estimate, together, FedEx and UPS alone move up to 40% of packages in America, up to 40%.
Joe Biden: (04:51)
And other companies are stepping up as well. They include Target, home Depot and Samsung that have all committed to ramp up their activities to utilize off peak hours at the ports. So the commitments being made today are a sign of major progress in moving goods from manufacturers to a store or to your front door. I want to thank my supply chain disruption taskforce, which we set up in June led by secretary Buttigieg, Raimondo, and Vilsack and my director of National Economic Council, Brian Deese. I want to thank them for their leadership. And I especially want to thank [Joe Porcari 00:05:30]. And I think Joe’s done one heck of a job. My special envoy, specifically on ports, who’s been working this issue with all the stakeholders for the past several weeks.
Joe Biden: (05:44)
I also want to thank the port directors. I want to thank Gene and Mario again, and the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Mayor Garcetti and Mayor Garcia for their leadership. And I think the private companies that are stepping up, I want to thank them, but I particularly want to thank labor. Willie Adams of the Longshoreman and Warehouses Union who is here today, the Teamsters, the rail unions from the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the International Association of Machinists, to the American Train Dispatchers Association, to Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Union, known as SMART.
Joe Biden: (06:25)
I want to be clear. This is across the board commitment to going to 24/7. This is a big first step in speeding up the movement of materials and goods through our supply chain. But now we need the rest of the private sector chain to step up as well. This is not called a supply chain for nothing. This means the terminal operators, railways, trucking companies, shippers, and other retailers as well. Strengthening our supply chain will continue to be my team’s focus. If federal support is needed, I’ll direct all appropriate action. And if the private sector doesn’t step up, we’re going to call them out and ask them to act because our goal is not only to get through this immediate bottleneck, but to address the longstanding weaknesses in our transportation and supply chain that this pandemic has exposed.
Joe Biden: (07:18)
I might add parenthetically, one of the reasons why I think it’s very important that we get the infrastructure plan passed, my infrastructure plan and that supply chain system almost entirely in the hands of private business. The world has changed. Prior to the crisis, we chaired the focus on lean efficient supply chains, leaving no buffer or margin for error when it comes to certain parts arriving just in time as needed to make a final product. Our administration, [inaudible 00:07:54], that’s the way it was just in time was the focus. We didn’t have a pandemic and other things at the time.
Joe Biden: (08:01)
We need to take a longer view though than invest in building greater resilience to withstand the kinds of shocks we’ve seen over and over, year in and year out, whether it’s the pandemic, extreme weather, climate change, cyber attacks, rather disruptions. In fact, research tells us that a company can expect to lose over 40% of one year’s earnings every 10 years due to supply chain disruptions. A longer-term view means we invest in systems that have more time built in and our ability to produce, innovate, and partner with our allies.
Joe Biden: (08:40)
That also means companies throughout the supply chain like maritime, air freight and trucking companies reduce their carbon emissions and help to meet our climate change goals. It also means creating and supporting good paying jobs so folks want to stay in these jobs so they can build the skills and careers and make a decent living. It means more opportunities to join a union, especially for truckers. These steps are critical. They allow companies to pivot quickly when a disruption hits because they’ve invested in their workers, their workers’ skills and training upfront to be able to adapt.
Joe Biden: (09:20)
We need to invest in making more of our products right here in the United States. Never again should our country and our economy be unable to make critical products we need because we don’t have access to materials to make that product. Never again should we have to rely too heavily on one company or one country or one person in the world, particularly when countries don’t share our values when it comes to labor and environmental standards. I’ve said before, we’re more in the competition for the 21st century. We are America. We still have the most productive workers and the most innovative minds in the world, but the rest of the world is closing in and we risk losing our edge if we don’t step up.
Joe Biden: (10:04)
In order to be globally competitive, we need to improve our capacity to make things here in America while also moving finished products across the country and around the world. We need to think big and bold. That’s why I’m pushing for a once in a generation investment in our infrastructure and our people with my infrastructure bill and my Build Back Better Act. These bills will transform our ports. There’s billions of dollars for ports, highways, rail systems that sorely need upgrading and would bring products faster and more efficiently from the factories to the store, to your house.
Joe Biden: (10:42)
Let me be clear. We’re proposing to make the biggest investment in ports in our history. The bill would also make investments in our supply chains, in manufacturing and strengthening our ability to make more goods from the beginning to end right here in America. The bottom line, we’ve seen the cost of inaction in the pandemic in the delays and the congestion that affect every American. But it’s fully within our capacity to act to make sure it never happens again. It’s going to take a little time and that we’ve unlocked the full might and dynamism of our economy and our people. That’s what we’re going to do. God bless you all. And may God bless the longshoreman, rail workers, truckers, and all the workers who are keeping our economy going. May God protect our troops. Thank you all so very much.