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Biden to host CEOs to discuss holiday shopping supply chain issues, inflation

U.S. President Joe Biden announces the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of a coordinated effort with other major economies to help ease rising gas prices as he delivers remarks on the economy and “lowering prices,” during a speech in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building’s South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 23, 2021.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will host the CEOs of several major retailers at the White House on Monday to discuss administration efforts to tackle global supply chain bottlenecks, and reassure Americans that goods will be on shelves for the holidays.

Joining Biden in person from the tech sector will be Etsy CEO Josh Silverman and Samsung CEO KS Choi, according to a list from the White House.

The supermarket industry will be represented by Food Lion president Meg Ham, Todos Supermarket CEO Carlos Castro and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen.

Other retailers in attendance will include Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz, Best Buy CEO Corrie Barry and David Rawlinson, CEO of Qurate Retail Group, which owns brands like QVC, Ballard Designs and Zulily.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch will attend the meeting virtually, the White House said.

After the roundtable, Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks on what his administration is doing to “strengthen the nation’s supply chains, lower everyday costs for families, and ensure that shelves are well-stocked this holiday season,” the White House said Monday.

The events are part of a multi-pronged White House effort to tackle the intertwined challenges of global supply chain bottlenecks and inflation. Both of these problems trace their roots to an increase in post-pandemic demand for goods, which has collided with a global shipping system still hampered by Covid slowdowns.

And while there is little that Biden can do to directly influence these two macro-level challenges, the White House has been working overtime to make changes where it can.

Earlier this month, the administration rolled out a series of steps it is taking to address cargo backlogs at major ports, including $4 billion worth of construction at coastal ports and inland waterways.This work, led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is slated to begin within 60 days.

The administration has also worked closely with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to help them expand their operating hours and reduce the long line of ships waiting to unload cargo in the ports.

Increasing the supply of goods on U.S. shelves is expected to ease some of the pressure on prices. So is reducing the price of gas, which has skyrocketed this year and contributed to the high cost of retail goods.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Biden announced the United State would release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, part of a global effort by major oil consuming nations to ease the high price of gasoline.

But for many consumers, the pace of government solutions does not appear to be meeting the urgency of price inflation.

Monday’s event at the White House follows a Thanksgiving weekend during which Americans paid significantly more for turkey, potatoes and pies than they’ve paid in recent years. The U.S. consumer price index increased 6.2% last month from October 2020, with the price of food increasing 5.2% on the year.

Now, the 2021 holiday shopping season promises to feature both the inflation that impacted Thanksgiving’s food costs, plus the added supply chain concerns about goods being unavailable.

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