Top Global Supply Chain Themes for 2019

BSI SCREEN’s new report highlights the top challenges, developments, and trends likely to impact supply chains this year.

Five major themes that are most likely to impact the supply chain in 2019 are delineated in a new report from BSI in the UK. The analysis of how these five themes will affect supply chains forms the business improvement company’s annual analysis of global supply chain risks. The five themes are:

  • Revision of the minimum security criteria under the US Border Protection’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT)
  • Supply chain growth in Africa increasing exposure to varying risks
  • Ongoing mass migration posing both security and corporate social responsibility risks
  • Dramatic shifts in politics including those in Brazil, the US-China trade dispute, and uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the European Union
  • The continued threat to supply chains posed by cybersecurity issues

BSI has also identified several key trends in supply chain risk from 2018:

  • Food and beverage remains the top commodity stolen
  • Metal has now entered the top five commodities stolen worldwide
  • Poor working conditions led as the top labor violation recorded last year
  • Labor strikes most frequently disrupted manufacturing operations
Jim Yarbrough

Jim Yarbrough, global intelligence program manager at BSI, said, “We’re seeing key shifts to global supply chains this year, driven by quite dramatic changes in the geopolitical landscape. The concern is that as supply chains change—with Chinese companies moving operations to Africa, for example, or the US sourcing goods from other Southeast Asian nations—major implications will also evolve.”

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He added, “Increased exposure to labor exploitation, terrorism, corruption, and natural disasters must be a consideration for companies making changes to their supply chain, and best practices must be maintained in order to prevent threats to business continuity or corporate social responsibility.”

The report provides analysis of each of these top supply chain challenges, developments, and trends to help organizations increase their understanding of potential exposures. A sample of the analysis by theme is provided below:

CTPAT minimum security criteria
Within the United States, companies enjoying trade benefits under CTPAT will soon need to meet new criteria for certification in order to meet the evolving risks of today’s operational environment. As the revised criteria for CTPAT are unveiled, companies will need to undertake new efforts to achieve supply chain security and mitigate emerging risks.

Tony Pelli

In an article on the changes posted on the magazine website, Tony Pelli, supply chain risk consultant with BSI, said, “Management commitment to supply chain security is one of the major areas where the criteria are changing. Member companies are now required to have a documented security review policy to help ensure that they are maintaining supply chain security at all times. This will require oversight from a dedicated point of contact for supply chain security issues, with support from logistics, supply chain, procurement, and IT teams. Members are also required to assess where risks exist in their supply chains on an annual basis or as risks change, another task that will require management review and commitment.”

Pelli added that the new security criteria will also include changes to the physical security measures that members and suppliers are required to implement.

Exposure to varying risks in Africa
BSI’s report reveals the potential for increasing movement of supply chains to Africa, particularly amongst companies based in China spurred on by the US-China trade dispute. Shifting manufacturing operations to Africa, where labor costs are lower and shipping to the US or Europe is cheaper, can be cost-effective compared to staying in China.

However, BSI warns that the relatively unchecked risk of terrorism in African countries, where 23% of all supply chain terror incidents take place, sets the operational environment apart from that of Asia. Companies whose supply chain moves to Africa must be wary of this increased risk, often compounded by corruption among security and customs personnel.

Migration continues to pose a risk
As conflict together with political and economic conditions continue to drive mass migration, businesses must contend with the double-edged challenge of security and corporate social responsibility risks.

This year’s report records an increase in stowaway and labor exploitation risks stemming from migrants traveling along three major flows: Central to North America, Intra Southeast Asia, and Africa and the Middle East to Europe.

BSI has also noted regression in countries such as Brazil where budget cuts are reducing the resources available to carry out inspections that could increase the risk of migrant labor exploitation.

Approximately half (48%) of all corporate social responsibility (CSR) incidents recorded by BSI in the last year involved migrants. The often desperate need for income to support their family leads many vulnerable individuals into labor exploitation.

This issue will remain key for supply chains in 2019, and companies must invest in a more thorough understanding of their supply chain to truly assess the risk of migrant laborer exploitation.

Dramatic policy shifts
Recent shifts in political ideology in the governments of Brazil, Mexico, the UK, India, and the US are setting the stage for an eventful 2019.

Newly-elected leadership in Brazil and Mexico are attempting to chart a new course in Latin America. President Bolsonaro in Brazil has swiftly undertaken efforts that may pose corporate social responsibility risks for some industries operating in Brazil, particularly in relation to the rights of workers, the LGBTQ community, and indigenous territories. BSI recommends companies take a more active due diligence role on business partners in Brazil, to fill gaps left by the government’s removal of some regulatory requirements.

Mexico’s president is undertaking new initiatives to curtail corruption that has historically underwritten organized crime, cargo theft, and oil theft in the country. The ramifications of such initiatives may have sweeping consequences for business continuity and cargo security, but despite President Obrador’s actions, BSI expects that security challenges will continue to affect businesses in the coming year, in particular in-transit cargo theft.

The US-China trade dispute has raised new concerns related to intellectual property protections and the relocation of relevant facilities for a host of businesses. However, companies looking to other Southeast Asian countries should weigh the costs of tariffs against the cost of increased risks to their supply chains. Exposure to child labor, forced labor, and natural disasters are each prevalent in other Southeast Asian countries.

The outcome of negotiations on Brexit remains unclear, creating ripples of uncertainty through supply chains operating within and through the United Kingdom and the European Union.

India’s ongoing elections in April and May could create a shift in politics with effects on global supply chains. Workers’ dislike of many recent policies, with strikes over low wages and fuel prices, could cause immediate disruption and longer-term changes.

Within this new global landscape, cybersecurity stands as an overarching and multi-faceted struggle for all parties throughout the supply chain. Securing data and facilities in a fast-paced and modular world connected by the Internet of Things is an emerging challenge that all supply chain professionals undertook in 2018 and will continue to grapple with in 2019.

Click here to download a copy of BSI’s Supply Chain Risk Insights Report.

The data and analysis within this report is pulled directly from our global supply chain intelligence platform, SCREEN, which provides insight into global supply chain security, business continuity, and corporate social responsibility threats and trends in real-time. SCREEN allows users to visualize risk on a global scale and easily identify high-risk locations and potential exposures. Our spotlight news feature and proprietary global risk maps help organizations stay up to date with emerging threats and better protect their supply chain, brand and reputation. For more information about our data and intelligence platform, please contact us directly To learn more about BSI, please click here

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