There will be “a fair amount of Christmas presents available” this year despite supply chain problems, the British Chancellor said.
Rishi Sunak was speaking after a meeting with finance ministers from the G7 group of the world’s major economies to discuss the supply chain crisis, with politicians agreeing to work more closely to resolve the issue.
Many retailers fear supply chain issues could lead to higher prices and empty shelves in the coming weeks, but the UK Major Ports Group chief executive said supply chains were ‘strong’ and that there was no need to panic.
A build-up of cargo at Felixstowe has led the Maersk shipping company to divert ships from the port of Suffolk, while similar traffic jams have been recorded elsewhere in the world, including the United States.
Speaking to the BBC in Washington on Thursday, Sunak sought to reassure Britons in the run-up to Christmas. He said: “We are doing absolutely everything we can to alleviate some of these challenges.
“They are global in nature, so we cannot solve all the problems, but I am convinced that there will be a good supply of goods for everyone. I am confident that there will be a fair amount of Christmas presents available for everyone to buy.
The Chancellor chaired a meeting of finance ministers on Wednesday, as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank met in the US capital.
The Treasury said Sunak reminded delegates of the importance of global cooperation to ensure supply chains are more resilient as the world emerges from the Covid pandemic.
Speaking after the meeting, Sunak said, “Supply chain issues are felt globally – and financial leaders around the world must work together to address our common challenges.
“Today, we collectively agreed to work closely together over the next few months – and together, we will build a strong and resilient recovery.”
Last month, motorists and buyers across the UK were urged not to panic buying fuel and goods as the shortage of truck drivers hit supplies.
Ministers have come under pressure to relax immigration rules as an emergency measure to lure overseas heavy truck drivers amid warnings that another 100,000 are needed in the industry.
Problems with the oil supply, in addition to problems in the food industry and rising gas prices, have led to warnings that the government would face a “winter of discontent”.
A combination of factors – including Brexit resulting in the loss of European drivers, the pandemic preventing driving tests and systemic issues in the industry related to wages and conditions – has led to the shortage of qualified heavy truck drivers.