Supply challenges feature heavily on “risk maps” to global trade 

By Zoe Martinez

Supply chain disruption has been singled out as the biggest barrier to global trade in Asia, followed by lack of transparency, and complicated and changing regulations.

These findings from Thomson Reuters’ Global Trade Report formed the basis of the recent panel discussion “10 Global Trade Discoveries about Organizations in Asia” – and the experience of the three expert presenters.

For Leonie Ferretter, Partner at KPMG in Trade & Customs, the current pandemic-induced disruption of the supply chain is unprecedented, but it’s likely short-term.

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We will come out of this disruption at some point and our supply chains will return to some kind of normality,” she noted, before delivering the bad news. “However, regulatory barriers and issues around complexity of trade will continue.

Shifts in buyer preferences are impacting supply chains

Over at Harley-Davidson, their Trade Compliance Director, Shannon Bryant is less sanguine about the shelf life of the current disruption. 

There's been a definite shift in supply and customer demand and preferences. What customers are buying and the quantities they're buying them in are different. As much as I hope that when the pandemic is officially over, we see our supply chain woes go along with it. But I think some of those behavioral changes will ripple out for longer than we'd like to see them.

Weaknesses exposed and addressed

Although the pandemic has not necessarily caused this disruption all on its own, it has clearly exposed widespread underlying fragility in supply chains. This has prompted Asia-based organizations to step back and review their supply chain strategies. 

According to the Global Trade Report, prior to the pandemic, only one in five organizations in Asia had a diversified supplier network in place. Fast forward to the onset of the pandemic, two-thirds of the 200 business leaders surveyed said their organization sought to build resilience in their supply chain using diversification, many of these indicating they will maintain this diversity longer term. 

Trade compliance too has come under the spotlight as large organizations grapple with the challenges to their bottom line and reputation from breaching rapidly changing regulations across multiple jurisdictions.

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Why trade compliance is gaining currency 

In the experience of Elizabeth Chelliah, Principal Trade Specialist at the Ministry of Trade & Industry in Singapore, “trade compliance has not been given enough due recognition and attention in many companies."

“Often the accountant or the logistics player is multitasking, trying to find out what the compliance regulations are.”

Elizabeth set the scene for the growing urgency to be on top of trade compliance.

“In the old days – in fact not too long ago - when organizations were just supplying resourcing from one country, it was very easy to do because you were just looking after one zone."

Business runs a risk by failing to address the importance of compliance knowledge and expertise, she cautioned.

“If they don't pay enough attention to it, their company will suffer when there are shortages, and the supply chain is disrupted.”

But now with globalisation, with parts coming in from so many different destinations and then assembled in one area, you need to be aware of so many more regulations.

Enabling transparency in your supply chain

Sometimes it takes a crisis to reveal the obvious, Shannon explained.

“In the past, we've always known that supply continuity was a risk, but the probability felt low. But now that’s taken a much more prevalent spot on everyone's respective risk maps.

“The current challenges we've had in the supply chain have really made the business case for some of the supply chain transformation that manufacturers have known was an opportunity and needed to happen someday. But now that business case is here, right?”

“Investments in technology and visibility deliver better upstream control and awareness of emerging risk and trends.”

Want to take control and be ahead of the curve? This is the time, like no other, to transform your supply chain and affect real change in trade.

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About the author

Zoe leads Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE Global Trade proposition across South East Asia, India, the Middle East and North Africa. As a Global Trade Proposition Lead, she works with large organisations propelling their adoption of technology to meet their global trade compliance requirements, reduce landed costs and eliminate disruption to the supply chain. In addition to driving engagement and ensuring customers get the most out of the ONESOURCE Global Trade Platform, Zoe’s goal is to grow the ONESOURCE Global Trade business across the region.

Zoe Martinez
Global Trade Proposition Lead, ONESOURCE, Thomson Reuters

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