Asia’s renewed surge in COVID-19 infections is compounding supply chain blockages across the world’s biggest source of manufactured goods.
After weathering earlier pandemic waves better than other regions, the fast-spreading delta variant has thrown into turmoil factories and ports in countries that were once among the most successful containing the virus.
The snarls in Asia — where the United Nations estimates around 42% of global exports are sourced — risk twisting their way through global supply chains just as shipments would usually ramp up for the Christmas holiday shopping season.
As earlier snags have shown, problems that start in Asian ports can ripple slowly, showing up later as delays in places like Los Angeles or Rotterdam and higher prices for consumers.
The flare-ups also worsen an already tortured year for exporters, with shipping costs sky-high due to a shortage of containers and as raw materials such as semiconductors become pricier and difficult to source amid red-hot demand.