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Biden holding meeting on supply chain issues By Reuters

© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the country’s fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 21, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday is convening a meeting of U.S. officials and private sector companies, including FedEx (NYSE:), to talk about ongoing efforts to address supply chain disruptions.

Biden created a task force in June to address the issue, and the White House argues it has made “significant progress to alleviate bottlenecks that are rooted in the global pandemic.”

Last month, Walmart (NYSE:) Inc Chief Executive Doug McMillon said a decision to extend port hours was having a positive impact on the flow of goods. Still, supply chain issues continue to affect many U.S. industries.

Reuters reported this week that candy makers, like retailers and farmers, have been slammed during COVID-19 with high commodity prices, labor shortages, and transportation and supply chain snarls, preventing them from fully cashing in on the holiday season.

Much of the shipping crunch resulted from the pandemic. Home-bound Americans with unspent travel and entertainment dollars and government stimulus checks splurged on everything from food and refrigerators to toys and exercise equipment. The demand for imports overwhelmed supply chains.

Biden, who is wrestling with U.S. inflation that recently hit a 31-year high, has taken measures to try to break such logjams, including unclogging ports and expanding trucker hours.

Wednesday’s meeting will include the secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Labor and Transportation as well as National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and Port Envoy John Porcari.

Also joining are the chief executives of FedEx, clothing retailer Gap Inc (NYSE:), Kansas-based trucking company Yellow Corp and the American Association of Port Authorities.

Biden has also sought investigations into excessive shipping fees and possible illegal conduct in oil and gas markets.

The White House said Wednesday fuel prices had dropped 12 cents a gallon on average to $3.30 since the recent peak last month, but added Biden “believes that they are too high, especially given that we are emerging from a once-in-a-century pandemic.”

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