Risks to Your Supply Chains – Vulnerability in an Uncertain World | JD Supra


As a small island nation, Australia has at all times been depending on worldwide commerce. Its beneficial phrases of commerce have helped it stand up to many exterior shocks all through its historical past. Whilst Australia’s international provide chains have withstood the disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has highlighted the vulnerability of those integral provide chains, and Australia’s ongoing financial prosperity, to different future shocks.  

Within this context, the Productivity Commission has been requested to look at the character and supply of dangers to Australia’s crucial international provide chains and develop methods to mitigate such dangers.   

The Productivity Commission has lately launched its interim report into these susceptible provide chains (Interim Report). The Interim Report has a particular deal with Australia’s position as an importer.


Some noteworthy findings of the Interim Report:

  1. One in 20 Australian imports could also be susceptible to concentrated sources of world provide.
  2. Most susceptible imports are consumption or intermediate items with fewer capital items (though these signify the best share of susceptible imports by worth). 
  3. The primary provider of susceptible imports is China – accounting for two-thirds of these merchandise.
  4. Vulnerable imports are a small share of the products used within the nominated important industries for the wellbeing of Australians – logistics, vitality, well being, authorities, communications, water and banking. 
  5. Effective threat administration requires an excellent understanding of a agency’s dangers to make sure that the online advantages of any funding to mitigate the prices of disruptions are matched by their potential results and prices.
  6. Risks are greatest managed by those that have direct incentives to mitigate towards them. Firms are primarily liable for managing dangers of their provide chain. Governments have accountability, like all agency, to handle dangers in provide chains for which they buy and/or ship items and providers immediately, significantly when these are items and providers in important industries.
  7. There are circumstances the place authorities intervention in non-public sector threat administration could also be justified, nonetheless the online profit must outweigh the potential prices. 

Whilst the findings that susceptible imports signify a small share of important items and providers are encouraging from a macro perspective, particular person companies might want to fastidiously analyse their provide chains and networks with respect to their specific services and products. 

Firms can do that by:

Adopting Risk administration methods:
  • Prevention – eg finding important provide chain parts in much less disruption-prone areas, selecting suppliers which can be much less susceptible to disruptions, investing in threat administration for crucial suppliers
  • Preparedness – eg holding buffer inventory and provider capability, diversifying provider networks and geographic footprint, use of contingent contracting, insurance coverage
  • Responsiveness – spend money on early detection, versatile manufacturing processes, dynamic pricing and promotions
  • Recovery – develop post-disruption restoration plans.
Taking benefit of technological developments:
  • Internet of issues – permitting monitoring of location, climate, site visitors patterns and bottlenecks
  • Blockchain – by which data of an asset or transaction and the origin of products is maintained in several places 
  • AI, machine studying, and analytics – by which warehouse operations, transport and logistics and stock administration will be automated.
Accepting the help of governments within the type of:
  • Provision of knowledge and experience of its businesses – eg Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and business regulators
  • Financing help from Commonwealth and State / Territory Governments and their businesses – eg Austrade, EFIC, CEFC and ARENA.
Dual purposing present authorized obligations
  • Firms who’re obliged to report on their provide chains underneath the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) and the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 (Cth) may use the evaluation carried out to discharge such obligations to mitigate dangers of provide chain disruption.

Australia’s Domestic Capability

The Interim Report’s discovering that “risks are best managed by those who have direct incentives to mitigate against them” is a welcome distinction to the ‘authorities is aware of greatest’ strategy. However, in mild of an ongoing commerce battle between China and the United States, geo-political instability within the Asia-Pacific area and the current EU controls on vaccine manufacturing, Australian companies must be ready for a better diploma of vulnerability of their provide chains. 

Domestic manufacturing business proponents have used the pandemic to reignite dialogue about onshoring. The Interim Report famous that onshoring doesn’t remove all provide chain dangers, with home manufacturing amenities and transport networks susceptible to onshore dangers. 

Recent examples embrace pure disasters and state-based well being rules (together with border closures) throughout the peak of the pandemic which slowed the motion of products round Australia. The prices of onshoring embrace sustaining larger prices of manufacturing, because of larger enter (significantly labour) prices and to foregoing economies of scale. The native manufacturing value premium was beforehand recognized by Ford and Holden as a cause for shifting offshore. 

Realistically, onshoring can’t remove dangers related to publicity to international provide chain disruptions. Complete insulation from disruptions is unlikely as a result of most home manufacturing additionally depends on some imported inputs. 

Next Steps

Submissions and feedback are actually open on the Interim Report. It is anticipated {that a} closing report can be revealed in late May 2021 and can embrace an evaluation of disruptions to provide chains which will have an effect on exports.


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