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Sunak: ‘good amount’ of Christmas gifts available despite supply chain crisis

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There will be a “good amount of Christmas presents available” this year despite supply chain problems, the UK chancellor has said.

Rishi Sunak was speaking after a meeting with finance ministers from the G7 group of leading world economies to talk about the supply chain crisis, with the politicians agreeing to work more closely to solve it.

Many retailers fear supply chain problems will result in higher prices and empty shelves in the coming weeks, but the chief executive of the UK Major Ports Group said supply chains were “robust” and there was no need to panic.

A build-up of cargo in Felixstowe has led to the shipping company Maersk diverting vessels from the Suffolk port, while similar logjams have been experienced elsewhere in the world, including in the US.

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Speaking to the BBC in Washington on Thursday, Sunak sought to reassure Britons in the run-up to Christmas. He said: “We’re doing absolutely everything we can to mitigate some of these challenges.

“They are global in nature, so we can’t fix every single problem, but I feel confident there will be good provision of goods for everybody. I’m confident there will be a good 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 World Bank convened in the US capital.

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The Treasury said Sunak reminded delegates of the importance of global cooperation to ensure supply chains were more resilient as the world emerged from the Covid pandemic.

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Speaking after the meeting, Sunak said: “Supply chain issues are being felt globally – and finance leaders from around the globe must collaborate to address our shared challenges.

“Today we have collectively agreed to work closely over the coming months – and together we will build a strong and resilient recovery.”

Last month motorists and shoppers in the UK were urged not to panic-buy fuel and goods as the shortage of lorry drivers hit supplies.

Ministers faced pressure to ease immigration rules as an emergency measure to attract HGV drivers from overseas amid warnings that 100,000 more were needed across the industry.

The issues around petrol supply, in addition to problems in the food industry and rising gas prices, have led to warnings the government faces a “winter of discontent”.

A combination of factors – including Brexit leading to the loss of EU drivers, the pandemic preventing driving tests and systemic problems in the industry relating to pay and conditions – led to the shortage of qualified HGV drivers.