Steel, electronics and clothes
Now there is a threat of further supply chain bottlenecks because of China
Supply chain bottlenecks have been common throughout the pandemic. The world has hardly recovered when the next crisis threatens. China’s departure from the strict “Zero Covid” policy is causing the number of infections to skyrocket, and new supply bottlenecks are imminent.
It was not until December 7th that China’s President Xi Jinping (69) said goodbye to his radical zero-Covid strategy.
Everyone knows sentences like this: «This article is currently not available.» Or: “Our supplier cannot give us a date when the product will be back in stock at the moment.” Such notices on shelves in stores or in online shops, which were booming during the corona pandemic, could now appear more frequently again.
The reason: On December 7th, China finally abandoned its zero-Covid policy. This surprising step has consequences: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), both hospitals and funeral homes in China are overburdened, and the first companies are closing due to too many cases of illness among the workforce, especially in the large port cities of the People’s Republic.
As in the pandemic years, supply chains are now threatening to burst again, containers could back up in China’s ports because of staff shortages due to illness or even death.
Delivery bottlenecks of several months possible
The chaos in China will probably also affect Switzerland, says Jacqueline Klaiss Brons (55), supply chain expert from the consulting firm Eraneos Switzerland. “I consider the probability that China’s departure from its zero-Covid strategy to cause supply bottlenecks to be quite high.”
She expects bottlenecks in the following goods in particular: imported consumer products such as electronics, telecommunications, household appliances, clothing, toys and raw materials such as steel.
According to the expert, bottlenecks in the supply of these goods have a negative impact on our economy. On the one hand, the goods such as iPhones or televisions that are produced in China are simply missing. This depresses the sales of the shops and thus also the tax base of the entire economy. On the other hand, certain raw materials or components for industry are missing due to the bottlenecks. These can then not produce or only to a limited extent, which in turn weakens exports abroad.
Delivery bottlenecks lasting several months?
From today’s perspective, it is still difficult to estimate to what extent such bottlenecks will exist and depends on how quickly China gets its chaos under control again, agrees Klaiss Brons. “Nevertheless, I suspect that supply bottlenecks could last for several weeks or months.” Should there be tougher measures against expectations in China, the bottlenecks could also drag on for longer.
Head of Chamber of Commerce tries to appease
The President of the Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Felix Sutter (62), softens this a bit: “What the consumer will feel is that his package from China may arrive a little later.” He is currently not assuming that there will be major and long-lasting supply bottlenecks. “Companies have positioned themselves in a more differentiated manner and built up larger storage capacities,” he says to Blick. China has also invested a lot to improve the logistical situation between producers and the important ports.