• Robert Tobiassen

NABI Testifies Before USITC on COVID-19 Disruptions on Global Supply Chain

Disruptions to the global supply chain and domestic distribution channels arising from Covid-19


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NABI PRESS RELEASE – September 23, 2020

NABI Testifies Before United States International Trade Commission on COVID-19 Disruptions on Global Supply Chain

The National Association of Beverage Importers (NABI) told the Commissioners of the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) of the multiple disruptions in the global supply chain and distribution channels in the United States as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The public hearing by the ITC responds to requests from the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee for a report in December 2020, detailing the supply chain challenges and constraints on goods related and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. NABI identified multiple disruption points in the flow of goods that importers of beverage alcohol products experienced as illustrative of the generic breakdown points applicable to all imported goods distributed in the United States.

“The world-wide catastrophe character of the COVID-19 crisis, unlike isolated disasters impacting a country or region, such as a hurricane or earthquake” said NABI President Robert M. Tobiassen, “has revealed weaknesses in the global supply chain that are exacerbated by weaknesses in the domestic supply chain and distribution channels. The inter-dependence of one on the other is revealed clearly.” Examples of disruptions experienced by NABI importers include Government mandated closures of wineries, distilleries, and brewers, transportation vehicles, and Ports of Export in the country of origin. Handicapping the movement of goods in the global supply chain include shortages of cargo containers due to cancelled sailings, social distancing restrictions at Ports of Export and Import delaying both the unloading and loading of vessels and the number of truck transporters allowed in the Port, additional time spent on disinfection of cargo containers between uses, crewmembers and sailors exhaustion arising from the inability to fly in new crews and return crews home due to travel restrictions, vessel casualty and damage rates have surged lately which some shipping experts attribute to crew exhaustion or the inability to obtain replacement parts for vessel maintenance because of COVID-19 impacts.

Once in the United States, the distribution of products is disrupted by a shortage of commercial driver license holders, concerns about driver safety leading some drivers asking to carry concealed weapons, longer waits at truck stops to use showers, eating facilities for on-premise and off-premise food, and general supplies for long-haul drivers who “live” in their trucks for extended time. Some States have closed rest-stops on highways to travelers and truckers, including not permitting truckers to rest in the parking areas. Confusion over “essential” employee determinations has reportedly resulted in local law enforcement stopping truck drivers, warehouse workers, and delivery personnel. Federal guidance rather than firm standards allow States to adopt their own standards. “A shutdown or restrictions at any one of these points has a domino effect on all subsequent steps in the planned operational flow of the supply chain,” said Tobiassen. Solutions must address this inter-dependence for the future and rely on cooperation between countries, industries, and other stake holders and establish multiple sources of products. “Finally, context counts” he added, “these disruptions are only exacerbated by the ‘trade wars’ with China and the European Union, among others, as the resulting unpredictable reduced trade levels impact the volume of sailings with cargo containers and port arrival forecasts.”

The NABI testimony appears on the ITC website public filings for Investigation

No. 332-578, https://edis.usitc.gov/external/search/document/720140

For further information, contact NABI at nabipresident@bevimporters.org or (202) 393-6224.



Download a copy of the International Trade Commission Covid-19 supply chain investigation here:

International Trade Commission - COIVID-
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Download • 216KB


Download a copy of copy of NABI's testimony before the International Trade Commission here:

NABI Testimony Before International Trad
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Download • 236KB

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© 2020 National Association of Beverage Importers.