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Cargo theft and migration incidents increase risk to supply chains as impact of COVID-19 pandemic remains strong

07 August 2020

THE BRITISH Standards Institution (BSI) has announced the latest findings from its quarterly review of the top global supply chain security, business continuity, food safety and fraud and Corporate Social Responsibility threats and trends.

Powered by the Supply Chain Risk Exposure Evaluation Network (SCREEN) tool, the BSI found that, while COVID-19 concerns remain at the top of the list, its effect has created a number of secondary disruptions and risks which are impacting supply chains, including migration and cargo theft.

“Long-held practices around supply chain resilience have been completely upended,” said Jim Yarbrough, global intelligence programme manager at BSI. “As organisations begin the process of rebuilding their supply chains following the COVID-19 pandemic, the BSI’s latest SCREEN data indicates that, in addition to the virus, they face new and additional threats, underscoring the need for business continuity planning.”

Impact of COVID-19

When the BSI issued its annual Supply Chain Risk Insights Report at the beginning of March, the global business impact of COVID-19 was still in its initial stage. As the BSI predicted, the outbreak has led to complex and varying responses by individual Governments and organisations, wreaking havoc on supply chain continuity.

The BSI’s latest findings show that a rise in COVID-19 cases is leading global supply chain hubs such as Bangladesh and India to lock down, in turn creating supply chain pinch points. This has resulted in delays to manufacturing and global shipping and could likely impact specific sectors. As virus outbreaks continue, a country-by-country approach to containing the virus is expected, which could increase temporary disruptions to supply chain movement.

One area where supply chain risks exist outside of the COVID-19 pandemic is in cargo theft. While there’s an increase in theft of medical devices (such as PPE and ventilators; the items most associated with the COVID-19 pandemic), SCREEN also reported an increase in thefts of particular goods across the world.

There’s the theft of consumer goods such as cleaning solutions which has risen in Mexico. Alcohol and tobacco thefts have increased in South America. Food and beverage thefts continue to lead in Asia and electronics remain a top target in Africa and across the Middle East.

Stowaway incidents

In March, the BSI found a high rate of stowaway incidents in Europe and the Americas as migrants used trucking as the transport modality of choice to move across Europe and through the Americas. This trend continued throughout 2020, with weakened European economies forcing migrants to continue travelling in order to find work.

In the Americas, SCREEN data found that, while the virus deterred some migration through the border, migrants continue to travel in a northern direction and, while stowaway incidents involving cargo trucks continue, there has also been an uptick in rail incidents.

Human trafficking

In March, the BSI highlighted an expected rise in additional security challenges and disruptions that trafficking would create within the Americas. As the year progressed, SCREEN noted a particular increase in labour trafficking with Asia and the Middle East involved as well. The BSI expects this trend to increase as the loss of livelihood puts pressure on families to consider other means for generating income.

The BSI’s dedicated team of analysts monitor and analyse a wide range of geographic risk and incident data sources to produce risk ratings for 25 proprietary risk indicators for 203 countries. The BSI team is constantly updating and refining its intelligence, making sure risk ratings reflect the situation on the ground.

SCREEN’s Q3 results will be released later on this month. To learn more visit www.bsigroup.com/supplychain