© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British Conservative Party co-chair Oliver Dowden gestures during the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, Britain, on October 5, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Written by Sarah Young and Jay Faulconbridge
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Wednesday that people should buy normally at Christmas and there would be no shortage of gifts after shipping containers carrying toys and electrical goods were diverted from the country’s largest port because it was full.
Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, has diverted some ships from the port of Felixstowe in eastern England because a shortage of truck drivers means there is no place left to stow containers.
“I’m confident that people will be able to get their toys for Christmas,” Oliver Dowden, co-chair of the Conservative Party, told Sky. He said he was sure to deliver Christmas presents this year.
Dowden, a cabinet minister without portfolio, said problems at the port were easing and that supply chain problems facing the world’s fifth-largest economy were global – such as a shortage of truck drivers and congestion at the port.
“The situation is getting better,” Dowden said, referring to Felixstowe, which handles 36% of the country’s container shipping. Asked if people should start buying now at Christmas, he said, “I would say just buy as you normally do.”
He said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is on vacation abroad, has been largely involved in domestic and international issues. “He is very involved in the job.”
The International Monetary Fund said Britain’s economy is expected to grow 6.8% this year, the fastest of the major Group of Seven economies, despite supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures stifling the global economy.
The British economy returned to growth in August after contracting for the first time in six months in July.
But its exit from the European Union exacerbated some of the problems by restricting immigration.
Britain is short of around 100,000 truck drivers, leading to queues for fuel at filling stations and concerns about getting food into supermarkets, and a shortage of butchers and warehouse workers is also causing concern.
“Felixeto is currently among one of the affected ports. The main factors in addition to the epidemiological impact behind this situation are the high consumption demand and the shortage of truck drivers to distribute on the land side,” Maersk said.
It added that it was diverting some ships “to alternative continental ports” to regulate the flow of shipments and reduce the impact on supply chains and British consumers before Christmas.
The labor shortage also affects farmers.
Two sisters who run a pig farm in north-east England have urged Johnson to lift strict immigration rules for butchers or risk seeing the pork sector https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/desperate-british-pig-farmers-tell-johnson-ease -Immigration Rules-2021-10-13 Collapsing under the weight of over-fattening animals.
“It’s stressful like we’ve never seen before, it’s totally emotionally draining, it’s financially crippling,” Vicki Scott told Reuters due to the cries of hundreds of pigs. “We’re in a bit of a bad situation now.”
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