This article reminds me that there are entire communities, cultures, states, and countries that are isolated, and in remote regions of the world. Though isolated, they rely on supply chains as much as any other country or region that would have easier access to supplies. Victor Restis, a Greek shipping magnate and president of Enterprises Shipping & Trading S.A., cites Hawaii as an example of remote locations and their need for sustainable supply chain management – much of it built on transoceanic shipping.
The article highlights the connection points and outlines how products are moved through supply chains and highlights the vulnerabilities. For example, much of Hawaii’s product (imports) comes through California’s supply chain. Then it is interspersed through 10 commercial harbors located through the six major Hawaiian Islands. Inter-island barges move product and supplies around to warehouses, then trucked to final destinations – a fascinating microcosm of how the rest of the global shipping and supply chains work.
Restis noted that demand had accumulated as the virus spread but should return to pre-COVID-19 operations. I think we were all thankful that there wasn’t a significant break in the supply chain, leading millions of people scrambling for food and supplies – that outcome would have been devastating.
I would assume that given Hawaii’s position in the Pacific Ocean that it does receive shipping directly from Asian countries, which most likely experienced delays and slight disruptions in supply chains, but nothing significant. And that would lead me to believe that the shipping network goes both ways. For example, cargo vessels coming from Japan, the Philippines, China, and India would most likely pass through Hawaii, unload supplies for both the state and for the rest of the continental United States. Vessels from Hawaii, whether they originate there or returning to California, would move those supplies through its ports. This makes Hawaii an extremely valuable geographic touchpoint in the supply chain movement between the U.S. and Asian countries.
Given its importance, I am glad to see an article like this, including the commentary by Victor Restis that highlights the stresses COVID-19 presented to the international shipping and trade industry. The article brings attention to areas of the world – and within the U.S. – that we would never have considered living in our little bubbles and worrying about how to interact with the spread of this virus. I have a newfound respect for the state of Hawaii. Other than being breathtakingly beautiful, it is a valuable cog in the global supply chain system.