The urgent need to protect the global supply chain
Every day, staggering numbers of air, land and sea passengers, as well as millions of tons of cargo, move between nations. International trade and commerce has long driven the development of nations and provided unprecedented economic growth. Indeed, our future prosperity depends upon it.
At the same time, threats to trade and travel — whether from explosives hidden in a passenger’s clothing or inside a ship’s cargo, or from a natural disaster — remind us of the need for security and resilience within the global supply chain. A vulnerability or gap in any part of the world has the ability to affect the flow of goods and people thousands of miles away. For instance, just three days after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear tragedies struck Japan last March, U.S. automakers began cutting shifts and idling some plants at home. In the days that followed, they did the same at their factories in more than 10 countries around the world.
Ten years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we also continue to see the determination of individuals and groups to disrupt economies by targeting our transit and cargo systems. Understanding the seriousness of these threats underscores the need for a continued focus on protecting the global supply chain.
Just as important, we must move away from the outdated dichotomy that we have to choose between trade and travel efficiency, and trade and travel security. Security and efficiency must no longer be seen as mutually exclusive. It is possible to enhance security without increasing wait times, creating more paperwork and driving costs higher – and we are doing so already.
As I announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, the United States released a National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security, the product of more than two years of collaboration across the U.S. government, and with international and domestic public and private partners.
The National Strategy, created with the input of more than 60 subject matter experts and hundreds of supply chain stakeholders, takes a whole-of-nation approach to global supply chain systems, with two explicit goals: promoting the efficient and secure movement of goods; and fostering resiliency.
We will pursue this strategy in three main ways:
First, we will maximize resources and expertise from across the United States government to find smarter and more cost-effective ways to address security threats. This includes developing common standards, streamlining our processes and enhancing our information sharing.
Second, we will seek to foster an all-of-nation approach to leverage the critical roles played by domestic governmental and private-sector partners. The supply chain is vast and complex, touching points of manufacturing, assembly, consolidation, packaging, shipping, and warehousing, as well as supporting communications infrastructure and systems. All must play a role in its protection.
Because protecting the global supply chain is inherently an international challenge, it will take an international effort to meet it. The tremendous benefits we all reap from an interdependent global economy means that we are all stakeholders in the security of that system.
And third, we will continue to think globally, enhancing our coordination with the international community and international stakeholders who have key supply chain roles and responsibilities. We will seek to develop and implement global standards, strengthen detection, interdiction, and information-sharing capabilities, and promote end-to-end supply chain security efforts with the international community.
All nations have a stake in the supply chain’s success, and only through international cooperation will we all share in its benefits.
Over the next six months, U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, will reach out to a wide range of partners to implement the Strategy together, and to foster a secure, efficient and resilient global supply chain.
As globalization brings nations closer together, we need to jointly disprove and leave behind the notion that security and efficiency cannot coexist, and together build a security architecture that better uses information to assess risk. By taking a coordinated, strategic and thoughtful approach, we can expedite legitimate commerce while focusing our attention on that much smaller portion that poses harm. Security and confidence in the global supply chain enhance our collective economic strength, rather than impeding progress.
Our mutual understanding of this changed relationship will help us better secure the global supply chain, better promote trade and travel and ensure future economic growth. Together we can meet our shared goals, continue to build on our considerable progress, and strengthen the global supply chain to meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s.