There is an interesting article in Tradewinds discussing the future of global shipping and supply chain fails as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wasn’t aware that 80% of the world trade volume is transported by sea.

We’ve all seen the giant shipping container at ports around our nation (Florida, California, New York, and more), but didn’t realize that China is home to seven of the largest, busiest container ports in the world.

The virus has also shined a light on our dependence for so many of our daily products that are manufactured and shipped out of China. This includes essential products like prescription medications and personal protective equipment used by our frontline medical staff. “Made in China” used to be a snide joke poking fun at quality or the shear fact that everything seemed to be made in China. Turns out, it wasn’t just seemingly true, it is now painfully true.

Regarding the rebound of the shipping industry, Mr. Victor Restis, a Greek shipping tycoon and president of Enterprise & Trading S.A., thinks the industry will ultimately rebound and supply chains will resume. But for how long? The article goes on to point out that the U.S. is opening questioning its dependence on China for essential goods.

President Trump’s America First mantra seems to have found its purpose and for the first time, I am starting to listen a bit more closely. Did this pandemic expose our need to bring more manufacturing and production back to the United States? Should our reliance on medications and essential products be a negotiating points in trade wars?

Did you like hearing China say they would withhold medications to the U.S. for insulting their handling of the virus? When behind closed doors, does the China’s Communist government discuss holding products we rely on daily as a hostage for global political positioning? It will be interesting to see if the United States travels this path alone, or if other countries decide it is in their best interest to diversify global trade and supply chain paradigms. We need to put politics aside and stop this diatribe of useless banter for good. It doesn’t help, it is not productive, and it leaves us extremely vulnerable.

Our leaders in government need to come together, each out to counterparts in other countries and bring everybody to the table. Shipping routes, trade deals, manufacturing and distribution should all be on the agenda of discussions. If not, we may be doomed to repeat this history.