Coronavirus and the end of the global supply chain

In depth: COVID-19 has shown how fragile cost-driven, just-in-time processes really are.

by Paul Simpson

When the first container ship arriving from China at the port of Vancouver was cancelled in January this year, it didn’t seem particularly significant.

By mid-March, when China’s struggle with COVID-19, aka coronavirus, had become so all-consuming that 30 more journeys had been cancelled, Vancouver’s port officials were facing a crisis of historic magnitude.

That consumer goods weren’t being unloaded from China as per the schedule was less of a concern than the fact that Canada, which usually filled those containers with lentils and peas, had two months’ worth of crops stuck in port (historically, roughly a third of Canada’s crops have been exported in containers).

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