Obama talks supply chain risk management

By Freddie Pierce
Its nice to see supply chain take a prominent stage in global political discussions, and things hit a crescendo today when United States President Bara...

It’s nice to see supply chain take a prominent stage in global political discussions, and things hit a crescendo today when United States President Barack Obama talked about his concerns surrounding the global supply chain.

Not surprisingly, those concerns were centered on supply chain risk management, which has become a topic of hot discussion in 2012.

“We have seen that disruptions to supply chains caused by natural disasters – earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions – and from criminal and terrorist networks seeking to exploit the system or use it as a means of attack can adversely impact global economic growth and productivity,” Obama said in a letter dated Jan. 23 and released today by the White House.

“As a nation, we must address the challenges posed by these threats and strengthen our national and international policies accordingly.”

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Last year saw some of the worst natural disasters in recent memory, starting with the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that rocked Japan in March. Thailand flooding late in the summer also brought pressure among auto and electronic component manufacturers who were already hurting from the Japan disaster.

The global logistics world was also hurt by the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic eruption in Chile, which disrupted shipping in Latin America.

Obama’s plan for further supply chain risk management has been directed to department officials, who will meet with state, federal and international government agencies to find ways to safeguard against disruptions.

Will Obama follow through on his promise? Only time will tell. The only thing certain is that natural disasters will happen again, and it’s up to supply chain managers around the world to learn from 2011 and be better prepared.

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