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Cargo theft and migration incidents increase risk to supply chains

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains strong.

4 August 2020

BSI, the business improvement company, today 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, 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, cargo theft and child labour.

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

Impact of COVID-19 on Supply Chains

When BSI published its annual Supply Chain Risk Insights Report at the beginning of March 2020, the global business impact of COVID-19 was still in its initial stage. As BSI predicted, the outbreak has led to complex and varying responses by individual governments and organizations, wreaking havoc on supply chain continuity.

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

Global Increase in Cargo Theft

One area where supply chain risks exist outside of the COVID-19 pandemic is cargo theft. While there is 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:

  • Theft of consumer goods such as cleaning solutions 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 Europe and the Americas

In March, BSI found a high rate of incidents 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 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 is also been an uptick in rail incidents.

Human Trafficking and Child Labor

In March, 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 in Asia and the Middle East, as well. BSI expects this trend to increase, as loss of livelihood puts pressure on families to consider other means for generating income.

BSI’s dedicated team of analysts monitor and analyzes 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 their intelligence, making sure risk ratings reflect the situation on the ground. Screen’s Q3 results will be released during the first half of August 2020.