President Joe Biden announced Wednesday agreements by ports, dockworkers, railroads, trucking companies, labor unions and retailers to drastically expand their hours of operation to ease distribution bottlenecks.

The pledges by some of the largest U.S. ports, shipping companies and retailers to increase the flow of goods will result in the delivery of an extra 3,500 containers per week, according to White House officials.

Port and manufacturing closures and disruptions around the world during the pandemic are still being felt by American manufacturers and retailers as well as consumers. Farming equipment and other inputs are increasingly in short supply, especially if they are imported or rely on components from overseas.

“The commitments being made today are a sign of major progress,” Biden said in a speech from the White House. “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 to step up as well.”

The Port of Los Angeles, Fed-Ex, UPS, Target, Walmart, Home Depot and Samsung have all agreed to increase operations in off-peak hours to speed up distribution, according to the White House.

The Port of Los Angeles has agreed to expand its Monday-to-Friday operations to a 24-hour-per-day, seven-days-per-week system, Biden said. The Port of Long Beach expanded operations last month.

The agreements by ports to work through the night means less congestion on highways, cutting delivery time even further, said Biden.

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“By increasing the number of late-night hours of operation … today’s announcement has the potential to be a gamechanger,” he said.

Biden met with several private sector leaders to discuss supply chain issues Wednesday at the White House, including Peter Friedmann of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition and Geoff Freeman, president of the Consumer Brands Association (formerly known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association). 

“America is still in an emergency situation, one that is growing worse for our industry,” Freeman said. “We appreciate the administration’s focus on supply chain at this critical moment and applaud the announcement of ramping up port hours to expedite the movement of goods.”

But Biden also stressed the need to rely less on foreign goods from countries like China as well as overhaul U.S. supply chain systems so they will be able to withstand future calamities.

“We need to take the longer view and invest in building greater resilience to withstand the kind of shocks we see over and over, year in and year out,” Biden said. “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.”

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