In reading the article, “The Future of Shipping Post Pandemic: Navigating Unchartered Waters,” I’ve come away with a newfound respect for how the products we use on a daily basis end up on the shelves of stores across this country – or any country for that matter. The COVID-19 experience has made it apparently clear on just how reliant we are on the global systems of manufacturing and trade. It frightens me to think that failure in one part of the chain, can resonate negatively throughout the entire system. This “break” or “failure” in the supply chain due to COVID-19 didn’t suppress the demand, it crippled the supply. As a matter of fact, demand for products we use on a daily basis (and rarely think about) skyrocketed to the point where limitations were placed to prevent hoarding and to make sure more people had access to the products they needed.
In the article, Victor Restis, a Greek shipping magnate and president of Enterprise & Trading S.A., commented that the dry bulk sector was already experiencing a big recession despite demand. The virus further compounded that problem bringing rates to historic lows. Mr. Restis ultimately signaled that the shipping markets would rebound and that it was purely a waiting game at this point. It is assuring to hear this type of positive outlook given the gravity of the situation and what could have become a much more serious problem. Perhaps leaders in shipping like Mr. Restis can come together and chart new pathways that could further lessen the risks exposed by this pandemic and the collateral damage it caused.
It will be interesting to see how the shipping industry will alter once our global, new normal is defined. According to the article, China seems to have the market cornered being home to seven out of the world’s top 10 busiest container ports. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see what will transpire from investigations into China’s role in the COVID-19 cover-up. Many nations in the world have come to the realization that the supply chain paradigm needs a dramatic shift away from the dependence on one country. It is possible that China’s leading role in manufacturing and production will take a hit and this time, I am not sure that offering the lowest manufacturing and production costs will be a topline issue. My hope is that countries put profit margins aside for a moment and help re-construct a more diverse system of product manufacturing and distribution globally.