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A recent article featuring an aspiring tennis player who complained that tennis balls are in very short supply, as the only two manufacturers (one in China and, the other, in Taiwan) of this essential sports equipment cannot get product to consumers. This has become known as the "supply chain crisis" or, as some have described, the "supply chain kink". The disgruntled amateur is not alone in feeling the pain of the magnitude of how COVID and other factors have seriously disrupted traditional supply lines at all levels. These disruptions have impacted essential and basic consumer goods, as well as the key components necessary to meet the worldwide demand for essential component parts by industrial, manufacturing, electronic, auto, military, and other consumer-related industries. These industries are dependent on reliable and consistent delivery of raw and finished goods, materials and parts critical to sustaining their respective markets and, by extension, related national economies. In this regard, and in its August 17 issue, FleetOwner magazine highlighted the "immense backlog" demand for heavy and medium duty commercial vehicles, creating a seller's market in used equipment.
In the middle of this conundrum is the transportation component which links manufactures and consumers through dependent relationships with ocean carriers, motor carriers, general freight forwarders, ocean freight forwarders, NOVCCs, warehouses and the other key infrastructure resources necessary to assure the timely and safe delivery of goods from start to finish. It is easy to take this segment of the supply chain for granted until the pieces seemingly fell apart due to the Pandemic and the inability to sustain and maintain traditional delivery patterns and relationships.
The magnitude of the adverse economic consequences caused by this disruption in "traditional" or "normal" supply chain experiences are reflected in a recent Gallup survey which revealed that: 60% of Americans have struggled to obtain necessary products and supplies due to significant shortages; over 57% of consumers have experienced significant delays in transit; at least 70% of the respondents reported having suffered at least one of these poor performance factors; and, 83% of those participating in the survey reported significant price increases in both raw and finished materials and products.
This reality has created a myriad of problems at all levels of the supply chain, whether domestic or international, which has traditionally been without serious disruptions. Now, the providers, buyers, and end-users of commodities are scrambling to find and arrange cargo space, with escalating pricing, key outbound port terminal shutdowns (particularly and most recently in China), backlogs at US ports of entry on products originating from the Far East, the lack of sufficient container and chassis equipment, and, other operational factors. This has led all participants in the supply chain to find and develop innovative alternatives to traditional traffic patterns, which are not expected to become "normal" again until the second quarter of 2022. In addition, others, including several influential associations and trade groups, are looking to possible federal or court intervention, as well as other external resources, in order to address and stem the tide of these adverse economic conditions.
Within this adverse environment, today's panel members bring to this timely topic a wealth of knowledge and experience from an industry and practical perspective. We’ll focus on finding and recommending remedies, as well as business and operational strategies to meet the challenges of this current and turbulent market.
About the Panelists:
William Taylor, Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP
William “Bill” Taylor is a Partner at Hanson Bridgett LLP and heads their Transportation & Logistics practice. He maintains transactional and litigation business practices, representing both public and private ventures. Bill has significant experience in all aspects of the transportation industry throughout the U.S. and global markets. He is well-versed in all areas of domestic and international logistics law and policy and has a keen understanding of the intricate multi-party contractual arrangements and business relationships central to the movement of products in intrastate, interstate and foreign commerce, including the sale or purchase of companies in or out of this market. Bill regularly consults with and defends clients regarding co-employer or misclassification claims related to independent contractor relationships in this industry. Additionally, he represents clients in hearings before administrative agencies with jurisdiction over enforcement and compliance issues, including California’s PUC, DMV, CHP, and CARB, as well as the U.S. DOT, FMCSA and other federal agencies, including defensive structural options in order to minimize exposure to such actions. Bill frequently speaks on relevant topics at industry and other associations around the globe.
Cameron Roberts, Partner, Roberts & Kehagiaras LLP
Cameron Roberts is a partner at Roberts & Kehagiaras LLP in Long Beach, California, with more than thirty years of experience in international trade. His practice areas include customs law, export compliance, domestic and international transportation law, maritime law, trade and insurance issues. He is a member of numerous customs, international trade, and legal associations. He is a past President of the Foreign Trade Association and Harbor Transportation Club. Mr. Roberts is an adjunct professor at California State University, Long Beach. He is a frequent presenter and author on topics related to his practice areas. He is a licensed customs broker (1989) and former transportation executive. He earned his B.A. degree in political science and international relations from California State University, Long Beach, and his J.D. degree, cum laude, from the Seattle University School of Law. Mr. Roberts has qualified as an expert witness in State and Federal courts, and is admitted to practice in California and Washington, the Court of International Trade and before the Federal Maritime Commission.
Robert Williams, Principal Owner, Logistics Counsel
Robert Williams is the principal owner of Logistics Counsel, a private law practice based in San Francisco and dedicated to the logistics industry. He is an international business lawyer with decades of inhouse experience in the logistics and transportation industry, in both private and public companies, and with global and regional responsibilities. He is a generalist with broad experience in international commercial transactions, regulatory compliance, law department management, litigation, corporate governance, tax, insurance, and the multi-cultural and multi-jurisdictional aspects of international logistics. Mr. Williams’ practice focuses primarily on the negotiation and drafting of customer contracts for thirdparty logistics services such as airfreight, oceanfreight, trucking, warehousing and distribution (from
crossdock to order fulfillment/e-Commerce), customs brokerage and foreign trade zones, project cargo, vendor managed inventory, service parts logistics, and returns logistics. He assists clients on the procurement side with air and vessel charters, ocean carrier and NVOCC contracts, warehouse leasing, and temp labor staffing. He advises clients regarding regulatory matters involving CBP, TSA, FMC, and trade controls.
Matthew Levett, Senior Director, Contracts Counsel, Ross Stores, Inc.
Matthew Levett is a seasoned in-house attorney with over 20 years of blended legal and strategic consulting experience. He is the Senior Director, Contracts Counsel for Ross Stores, Inc. Matthew specializes in contracts negotiation, drafting, and management; compliance; IT products and services agreements; management of outside counsel and litigation; process improvement; acquisition integration. He received his B.A. from Amherst College and his J.D. from UC Berkley.
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