Thursday, November 18, 2021

Seemingly Drug Smuggling, Hijackings and Other Crime is Booming Throughout Global Supply Chains

New Report Examines Three Major Threats for the Coming Year as Criminals Get Creative
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – This week saw the publishing of the annual global intelligence report from the British Standards Institute (BSI) ahead of what it refers to as a 'make or break year' for supply chains.

The report takes a hard look at the potential failing of traditional lines of supply and the pressures such as crime and climate factors are putting on them at a time when, as supply chains are failing, they are at the heart of the public consciousness as never before except perhaps in times of war.

The report considers crime, climate and a convergence of threats emerging as dominant risks to the global supply chain. The report, which is powered by analysis of the global data in BSI's proprietary web-based intelligence system, Connect Screen, provides valuable insight into the significance of these threats while attempting to offer analysis and practical guidance to organisations on best practices to mitigate and counter risks. Susan Taylor Martin, BSI Chief Executive, said:

"The past few years have put a spotlight on global supply chains and reinforced their crucial role in our day-to-day life. Because of this unprecedented moment, the supply chain is about to have a make-or-break year and needs to be right at the top of the C-suite agenda. It’s clear that the importance of supply chains will only increase as we head into 2022, and the steps organisations take now will ultimately determine their success or failure.”

The report then identifies the trends and associated risks impacting global supply chains over the coming year and highlights five key themes which it believes can enable organisations to achieve resilience in what is likely to be a fluid, and difficult, market. These are:

  • Supplier transparency as a key decider of business success
  • A shifting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) regulatory environment
  • An holistic understanding of 'pain points'
  • Adapting to 'convergences' of business challenges
  • Identifying opportunities in emerging trends

Turning to crime, the pandemic showed to companies of all sizes from around the world the importance of adaptability, and criminal organisations were no exception. Over the past year, BSI has observed a significant number of criminal organisations trying to infiltrate the logistics supply chain, masquerading as legitimate companies working in warehousing, transportation and distribution.

The BSI also notes the issue of fake carriers in an increasing number of countries. Additionally, over 2021, BSI reported that increasing unemployment closely correlated with an increase in organised crime and cargo truck hijackings in South Africa, as unemployment rates increased to 32.6% in the first half of 2021, hijacking crimes also increased by approximately 24.6%.

Similarly, drug cartels around the world are becoming more creative. BSI saw the numbers and quantities of cocaine seizures in Europe increase steadily in 2020 and 2021, and they are expected to continue to rise in 2022. Criminal organisations in Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia continue to ship large quantities into ports in Europe.

Although the ports of Antwerp in Belgium and Rotterdam in the Netherlands generally record the most and largest seizures of cocaine from Latin America, there have been notable shipments stopped in Ireland, France, Montenegro and Greece, further showcasing the cartels' ability to diversify routes.

The BSI says these issues underscore the need for organisations to ensure they undertake proper due diligence when engaging their suppliers. Critically, an end-to-end risk assessment of a company's supply chain will mitigate the risks inherent to partnering with separate companies from around the world. Jim Yarbrough, BSI’s Global Intelligence Program Manager, commented:

"As we continue to manage a multitude of challenges, including Covid, climate change and natural disasters, we have seen the convergence of impacts on organisations and the global community, illustrating the broad-brush consequences of disruptions and threats to our supply chains and the importance of not underestimating their complexities.

To protect the integrity of this vital part of our global way of life, business leaders must stay ahead of the latest trends that threaten to disrupt it. We've published a supply chain risk report every year since 2013, but there has never been a more vital time for business leaders and decision-makers to take note.”

Turning to climate change companies around the world are seeking to both protect their supply chains from the effects, and ensure they play their role in a greener future. Maintaining ESG compliance in evolving regulatory environments should now involve considering the impact on the entire supply chain.

For example, BSI noted that this year, at least 18 companies-spanning several industries were identified as sourcing products from companies contributing to deforestation in the Amazon. This type of association has the potential to bring significant reputational damage to an organisation and could ultimately result in a drop in revenue.

Additionally, while 2021 has seen a trend of higher-than-average shipping delays rebound, disruptions to the global supply chain like Hurricane Ida in August in the US and Typhoon Chanthu in September in China, have cumulatively caused various delays of shipment volume arriving infrequently at Californian facilities.

This has put renewed stress on the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which account for about one-third of all US imports. With climate change likely to increase the frequency of natural disasters, it is against this volatile backdrop that organisations need to reassess and look beyond traditional supply chain partners, methods and technologies.

Unfortunately it would appear that the BSI believes the problems do not end with those two malignant factors. Also, according to the report, there is an overarching threat to supply chains in the risk that individual considerations such as business continuity, sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and security are not addressed comprehensively, and that organisations fail to acknowledge that they are interrelated. Business continuity threats can lead to security threats and vice versa.

The global shortage of semiconductors exemplifies this convergence. Taiwan holds roughly 90% of the world's manufacturing capacity to produce semiconductor chips, an over-reliance that contributed to a global shortage of this component. In addition, factors such as droughts and Covid outbreaks in Taiwan between April and July impacted operational capacity, compounding the global shortage.

This shortage also created security concerns; for example a group of criminals attacked a truck driver's assistant as he was transporting a high-value cargo of semiconductor chips in Hong Kong in June, stealing $650,000 worth of goods.

Convergence can be addressed by companies doubling down on collaboration, ensuring that all parts of an organisation and their partners understand the integrated threats to a supply chain and that teams’ work together to address them. Harold Pradal, BSI Chief Commercial Officer, concluded:

“Supply chain threats will remain one of the most serious issues global businesses will face in 2022. Widespread product shortages and scarcely qualified operators, including lorry-drivers, are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ongoing global supply chain crisis. With manufacturers and freight companies already spending much effort to address these issues, organisations along the supply chain increasingly fall vulnerable to a convergence of additional threats.

”Those include more frequent and damaging natural disasters and more opportunistic criminal cartels. Unless these threats are addressed holistically and quickly by supply chain leaders, consumers are likely to see current challenges continue and worsen over time.” 

The BSI Annual ‘Supply Chain Risk Insights Report' can be downloaded HERE.