Garment shipments from Bangladesh to the US have been facing troubles over the last three weeks because of a strike by workers at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
In the worst shipping crisis in a decade in the United States, mammoth vessels loaded with products destined for American stores are sitting idle just off the coast, waiting for cargo languishing on the docks to clear.
Workers under the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) that deals with all port activities in west coast of the US went on strike demanding renewal of their contracts signed with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
Getting goods out of the ports is now taking longer than normal.
Most of the renowned global retailers that source garment from Bangladesh think the strike would hamper timely storage of the goods to be sold in the upcoming holiday season, mainly in December.
On October 20, more than 101 US industry associations, including manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors and transportation and logistics providers, sent a letter to ILWU and PMA.
In the letter, they urged the PMA and ILWU to launch negotiation between the two to remove the impasse.
“Unless addressed by the two negotiating parties, this situation will soon start to have a broader negative impact on the US and broader North American economies,” the letter said.
The congestion at the key ports in the US is getting worse by the day, according to the letter.
If the situation does not improve soon, the shipments of apparel items from Bangladesh will be hampered badly, said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Currently, Bangladesh exports more than $5 billion of garment items to the US market.
The delays are affecting JC Penney, Macy's, Kohl's Corp, Nordstrom Inc, American Eagle, Ralph Lauren and Carter's, according to Reuters. Shipments from Bangladesh for American Eagle, Ralph Lauren and Carter's have been stuck for over two weeks at the US port, Reuters quoted an apparel importer as saying who declined to be named.
"We simply don't know when these shipments will move out," the source said. An American Eagle spokeswoman declined comment on the delays, Reuters said.
Wal-Mart, Kohl's, Ralph Lauren and Carter's did not respond to requests seeking comment, according to Reuters.
Statistics from the PMA, which represents 29 ports along the west coast of the US, show hours paid to terminal workers jumped 24 percent this September over the same month last year.
Last month, 750,850 inbound containers arrived at the Los Angeles/Long Beach complex, up almost 11 percent from a year ago, the port statistics show.