M.E. Dey provides Updates on Traffic Jam: What Port Congestion Means for Supply Chains in 2021

At this time last year, the world had come to a stand-still—streets were empty, lockdowns in place, and we were just beginning to get our arms wrapped around the impact of COVID-19. Few could have anticipated that staying at home would actually put more pressure on the global supply chain. Now, well into 2021, global trade has become more of a hot topic than it ever has been bringing to light the fragility of the supply chain and the challenges that lie ahead in our industry.

At M.E. Dey, a global view is always imperative for us when it comes to looking at the year ahead. Economies around the world are reopening at various speeds and even locking back down in the cases of Europe and India. These factors make the rest of this year almost as unpredictable as the Ever Given running aground in Suez. The port congestion we are seeing is an economic traffic jam. The ripple effect of a traffic jam takes time to recover and there is no exception to global trade. Here in the United States, the economy is reheating at a record rate and the demand for overseas goods isn’t slowing fueled by stimulus spending, factories in need of supplies, and the Peloton you ordered a whole two months ago.

Port of Los Angeles Director Gene Seroka said, “I have not witnessed a sustained import surge of this magnitude in all my years in the industry.” There is currently an average of 30 container ships stuck outside the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach waiting to dump their cargo. Some are saying the bottleneck might be the U.S. citing slow container offloading, jammed product warehouses, scarce availability on air/rail, and the lack of a 24/7 work environment like in parts of Asia. In addition, President Biden said in his March 31st infrastructure plan fact sheet, “Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination.” While any of these may pose an issue, one weak link will always have an impact across the entire supply chain.

Outside of the U.S., delays caused by the Suez Canal blockage are actually forcing carriers to skip port calls. According to the South China Morning Post, “in Europe, carriers have begun skipping port calls to avoid congestion and loading only empty containers before heading back to Asia, where containers are in high demand for exports and business is most lucrative because of record freight rates.” Because of this, container capacity has been greatly reduced—ships aren’t stopping where they should be stopping, which includes picking up empties onshore.

So, we clearly realize that there is a slowdown. What does this mean for supply chains now and for the rest of this year? We can anticipate that global trade congestion will last through 2021 around the globe. One item to keep an eye out for is the start of the new contract year in May for annual freight negotiations, which could be priced significantly higher. On a lighter note, there may be some easing with the mass vaccine rollout and consumers willing to spend more on services rather than goods. That said, businesses should plan accordingly accounting for delays and higher freight rates due to container and space availability. M.E. Dey is working around the clock with our freight vendors shopping for the best rates for our clients. In addition, we have implemented new technology through our ediWebTracker allowing clients to keep track of their freight in real-time.

While the current port congestion around the globe is unprecedented and challenging, we hope it serves as an opportunity to assess the fragility of the global supply chain and work to improve efficiency in every corner of our industry.

On The Road with Chad Hoffman and the Wisconsin District Export Council

The Wisconsin District Export Council is a 2021 Annual Sponsor of MITA. We interviewed the Council’s President, Chad Hoffman, and asked him to share who DEC is and how the synergies between DEC and MITA can be accelerated.

The Wisconsin District Export Council (DEC) contributes and supports MITA and others by educating the “export” community within the U.S. DEC encourages, teaches and supports individual companies in their journey to start or grow exports of their goods or services. Taking advantage of the DEC’s FREE resources (yes, FREE!) and DEC’s volunteer trade professionals allows many US companies develop export sales that stimulate U.S. economic growth.

MITA:  We often ask our sponsors what values and benefits MITA brings to their organizations. With DEC, however, the better question may be, “What benefits does DEC bring to MITA’s members?”

DEC:  Three numbers come to mind – 665, 27, and 37. Wisconsin District Export Council members bring a total of 665 years of international experience to the group, averaging 26.8 years each, with much of that time in International Sales and Marketing. With nearly every member claiming at least one additional language in addition to English, DEC members also have direct experience in an average of 36.8 countries. The benefit to MITA members having [FREE!] access to this experience is immeasurable. 

MITA:  How are current events affecting business and international trade?

DEC:  “Distraction” more than anything. There are so many issues coming at people both at work and at home that being able to stay focused is a skill in itself. 

MITA:  What have been your biggest challenges and how are you handling them?

DEC:  We continue to repeat the message that trade = opportunity. Sometimes we are cheerleaders, sometimes educators, but always, we help companies fight the fear of the unknown. Even while the number and percentage of companies that export grows, data also shows that companies often export only a few times, stopping after encountering shipment delays, or payment and other unforeseen issues when exporting their goods. Creating an export program will take time and persistence, but the reward can be greater than anyone can predict.

MITA:  What motivated DEC to become a sponsor?

DEC:  It is core to our members’ beliefs that the United States can be competitive in the global marketplace, bringing innovation and quality to people who are seeking high quality goods and services anywhere. DEC’s free resources and training are available to anyone, at anytime and at no cost! Each DEC professional has been recognized for their real world expertise in international trade, and their areas of focus can provide an extended list of resources for any exporting company within the United States.

MITA:  What are you looking forward to when some semblance of “normal” returns? What’s on your bucket list?

DEC:  I’d like to walk on the Great Wall of China with my wife, whom I met in Spain during my extensive travel experiences. I’d also highly recommend that your readers consider visiting the Cíes Islands, an archipelago off the western coast of Spain, just north of Portugal. They are known for their fine white sandy beaches and clear waters. Be warned, though – you will find no cars, hotels nor nightlife there, just gorgeous views and total relaxation. 

MITA Appoints Jay Nash as a New President

The Board of Directors of the Madison International Trade Association (MITA) appointed a new president this month.

Jay P. Nash, Principal, Nash Global Trade Services (NGTS), will lead the association until the end of 2020. Jay was elected to the MITA Board in 2018 and has since served on the Programming and Marketing Committees, in addition to helping champion MITA’s annual trade compliance event. He has worked in the field of international trade compliance for 15 years with experience in over dozens of countries.
Nash replaces Katy Sinnott, Vice President of International Business Development with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), who is now part of the team helping the state of Wisconsin move forward in light of COVID-19. Sinnott will continue to serve on the MITA Board in an advisory capacity.

“I am honored to have been appointed by the Board to serve as President; I join the Board and the entire MITA membership in thanking Katy for her leadership not only of MITA but of the Wisconsin business community,” Nash said. “Following Katy’s good example, my fellow Board Members and I will ensure that MITA is an invaluable resource for its members, the state, and the region as we work together to re-open our economy.”

MITA plans to resume its programming with a series of webinars starting in June while continuing to provide information on international trade and platforms to connect with those engaged in it. “Supply chains may shift, and businesses may need to operate in different ways as a result of what we have experienced,” said Nash, “but in all cases, international trade will continue to be a critical part of local, national, and global economic growth, and in my view, organizations like MITA are needed more than ever.”

Navigating the “New Normal” during Covid-19 times

Many words have been used to describe the global pandemic that continues to impact our world. But, one word that could sum up the situation is – disruption.

The members of the MITA Board are working tirelessly during the Covid-19 pandemic to help businesses, both theirs and others, navigate this “new normal” and minimize the disruption to our lives and business.

Now more than ever, our international trade community needs the expertise, connections and advice that the MITA board members can provide. Consider the MITA board members as your resource now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, and into the future.

MITA board member contacts and their respective services are listed below.  

On behalf of the entire MITA board of directors, we wish you and yours safety, health and peace.


Katy Sinnott, VP International Business, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation


Harry J Haney,  Director, Supply & Value Chain Center, Loyola University Chicago       
Email:  hjhaney63@gmail.com           
Carrie M. Fix, Vice President, International Trade Development, M.E. Dey & Co.  
Email: carrief@medey.com       
Paul Jarzombek, COO, L.R. International, Inc.   
Email: PaulJ@LRInternational.com           


Dan Millmann, Partner, RSM US                 
Email: dan.millimann@rsmus.com     


Jen Pino-Gallagher, Director, M3 Insurance   
Email: Jen.pinogallahger@m3ins.com                     


Erik Ibele, Attorney, Neider & Boucher, S.C.   
Email: eibele@neiderboucher.com             


Jay Nash, Principal, Nash Global Trade Services (NGTS)   
Aleda Bourassa, Business Development Manager at ICS International Customs Services, Inc. 


Carla Kutsche, Account Executive, The Geo Group   
Email: carla.kutsche@thegeogroup.com                  


Maureen Muldoon, VP International Business Development, Trek Bicycle Corp.            Email:  maureen_muldoon@trekbikes.com  
Henrietta Bogyay, CGBP, International Sale, Exports to Europe including CIS
Glaselyn Miller, Director, Global Distribution at Synthego Corporation

NASBITE International Conference – Session Keynotes

The NASBITE International Conference Keynote Session via Zoom was held April 23,  and featured presentations by three  leading small business experts. Specifically SBA programs that offer special support for small businesses during the pandemic were shared. The session was recorded and a live link will be made available. For more information you may contact Aleda Bourassa (aleda.bourassa@icsbroker.com). Aleda is a MITA Board member and a member of the NASBITE Board of Directors.

NASBITE International Conference Speakers:
Michele Schimpp, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of International Trade, SBA
SBA Debt Relief– As part of SBA’s debt relief efforts:
Christina Sevilla, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, Office of the USTR, Executive Office of the President, discussed updates from the USMCA.
Andy Karellas, Executive Director, State International Development Organizations (SIDO) discussed the STEP Grants.
STEP Grants to States for Exporters: Wisconsin is a leading provider of STEP to help Wisconsin companies do more and better exporting. State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) provides financial awards to state and territory governments to assist small businesses with export development..  Contact a STEP awardee in your state to find out how they can help you start or expand your business to reach global customers.

Wisconsin’s STEP awardee contact:
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)
Katy Sinnott  608-210-6838
201 West Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53073
Stay tuned for more Breaking News & Updates from MITA.