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Three Supply Chain Lessons for Businesses Coping with COVID-19

supply chain

Three Supply Chain Lessons for Businesses Coping with COVID-19

As governments and healthcare agencies around the world work to stop the spread of the coronavirus, importers and exporters across 164 countries are struggling to manage the pandemic’s growing impact on their supply chains.

Despite past lessons from 2003’s SARS outbreak and 2011’s Fukushima tsunami about the hidden weaknesses in their supply chains, companies are challenged to manage logistics concerns stemming from sourcing strategies and risk management.

Developing a methodical supply chain response to the coronavirus pandemic will prove challenging, given the scale and rate of the pandemic’s spread. That said, supply chain leaders must mitigate such disruption and plan for future incidents, or risk falling behind.

Here are three lessons that the logistics industry can take away from the ongoing pandemic:

Lesson one: Evaluate your supply chain design

Current supply chain designs have predominantly followed a one-size-fits-all philosophy, on the assumption that raw materials are readily available for sourcing and production globally. While this has enabled a lower ‘cost-to-serve’ model, recent trade tensions and now the coronavirus pandemic have thrown a curveball for the global logistics environment.

Organizations should aim to optimize production and distribution capacity of their supply chain with dynamic, rather than static, operational capabilities. For example, a technology company can consider diversifying production facilities with local sources of supply in each of its major markets, rather than relying on a single source. In some companies, supply chain managers recognise the risks of single sourcing, but do so to keep costs low. These decisions trickle down the supply chain, affecting customers who do not directly source materials from impacted countries but whose suppliers do.

To prevent such future situations, companies should research suppliers in different geographical locations in anticipation of rerouting shipments from affected countries or consider having a secondary source outside the primary region to mitigate the impact. This can help further diversify the value chain.

Lesson two: Apply risk management principles in advance

While many global firms recognize the value of a risk management plan, it is often placed at the bottom of the priority scale in the absence of a crisis situation. According to a paper published by the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee, only 25% of a typical company’s end-to-end supply chain is being assessed in any way for risk.

Supply chains inevitably have multiple dependencies, but firms can proactively manage possible vulnerabilities at every stage through their risk management plans.

For example, having an accurate assessment of inventory is a given, but it is also critical to understand how restrictions on imports from China and affected countries will impact current inventory and regular shipping cadence. Interruption risk management strategies, including mapping and monitoring suppliers, should be applied when developing an informed inventory plan. Companies must also look ahead to forecast if the demand for goods may change in upcoming weeks – bearing in mind decreases in air capacity due to cancelled passenger flights and higher logistics demand due to current backlogs.

Lesson three: People first strategy

Above all, remember that people are the most affected throughout this pandemic. The health and safety of employees and customers must be prioritised amidst this evolving situation. Wherever possible, activate contingencies for remote-working arrangements, and implement a clear communications plan within the organisation. Doing so will go a long way in keeping employees informed while ensuring business operations are minimally disrupted.  For example, companies can develop an online information hub to address frequently-asked-questions and outline company policies that map out staffing plans.

Involve your suppliers within these plans as well – align on operational readiness including appropriate staffing numbers and facility planning for surges in volume.

Maintaining flexibility in customer support and services to customers in these difficult times is key – and how effectively a company responds to these issues will mean they remember you when things take an uphill turn again.

Plan ahead to navigate disruption

While global events such as the coronavirus pandemic are impossible to predict, it is possible to cushion their impacts by increasing supply chain preparedness. Companies must keep their contingencies in place before a crisis occurs. And when these crises do occur – these businesses will rise again.

resilience

The Importance of Supply Chain Resilience

Acknowledging potential weaknesses in your supply chain before they are exposed by elements beyond your control is of critical value. With current events in mind, managing future supply chain disruptions will be an integral component of corporate strategy. Calling it Supply Chain Resilience, Supply Chain Disruption, or Business Continuity Management (from the ISO 22301 standard) does not affect the necessity of having strategies in place that may make the difference between following or leading in a disrupted economy, and even between surviving or folding.

To identify potential soft spots, a review should not be limited to a single product flow or single supply chain element. For any company, the next big disruption does not have to be a pandemic; it can be something minuscule on a global scale, yet have the same devastating effect on the ill-prepared in particular trade lanes or in a particular industry. Unpredictable is not a reason to be unprepared. Creating supply chain resilience is a holistic exercise that involves more than just a few savvy logistics people. HR, finance, compliance/legal (to name a few) are all stakeholders in a healthy case of business continuity management.

How then to build a strategy? Like any other strategy, the process seems logical: review, assess, and mitigate. In this particular case: 1) review your tradelanes, products, and materials flow by matching them against risk categories (i.e., labor, business risk, global trade, nature, and materials), 2) assess risks for each combination, and 3) mitigate risks by either changing behavior now or planning for alternate (sourcing) options should the anticipated risks become reality.

Trade Lanes and Risk Categories

The relevant components to review within the supply chain include the importing and exporting country or countries, the manufacturing locations, the finished goods, and the (raw) materials. Ideally, for finished goods and materials, the associated Harmonized System (HS) codes are made available. Scratch what does not apply and move to the following step where each of the ‘inputs’ is categorically reviewed.

As mentioned, this should not be an exercise limited to supply chain professionals. For example, labor risks can be associated with the likelihood of strikes, wage volatility, and the availability of appropriate labor resources—not necessarily areas that keep the supply chain brain occupied every day.

In a similar fashion, other resilience elements expand across different areas of expertise. Business risks relate to cybersecurity, corruption, counterfeit products, and the chance of entering into business with bad actors that are on (any of the) denied party lists.

Global trade accounts for the compliance requirements related to the shipment of goods (i.e., licenses, documentation, permits, etc.), associates the products with the various duties and taxes, and identifies if Free Trade Agreements(FTA) apply and how to qualify for preferential treatment.

Arguably the most unpredictable, but not the least expected risk to account for, is nature. It’s important to identify the various kinds of disasters that may hit: natural hazards, pandemics or epidemics, flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, or drought can all play parts.

Lastly, consider materials. Understanding the market comes with insights into scarcity, sourcing locations, and price fluctuations.

Risk Assessment

Risk assessments match the input with the risk categories. For example, how vulnerable is the manufacturing location when it comes to labor regulations, corruption, or flooding? Is there an FTA in place that could potentially lower the import duty burden? Where in the supply chain can a cyberattack be most expected? In short, some homework is in order to create a thorough risk profile.

For many components, the sources are readily available, such as the Corruption Index at transparency.org, labor statistics on Statista or NationMaster, or duty rate information from the various global trade content providers (or the WTO).

Building Resilience

As with cyber-security risks (PEN tests) or a regular laptop virus scan, supply chain risk assessments will point out the components that need immediate attention or, in this case, are a high priority for alternate sourcing or routing options. It’s then time to build that resilience.

Look for options by analyzing the market and tradelanes. Mine import and export data to identify alternative sources for goods and materials, even manufacturing locations. Map out alternative routes for products to get where they need to go. Document the reasonable options and share with as many people as possible—preparedness is, of course, an all-inclusive strategy.

Next and where possible: test run! Re-route shipments temporarily or source occasionally from a new supplier; in other words, make sure the alternative options are viable. In addition, communicate with external sources that would be part of continuity plans. Make them aware they are part of these plans; put people or suppliers on a retainer and try to agree on terms before disaster strikes so the projected costs can be anticipated better.

Lastly, keep those alternate plans up to date; otherwise, it may be too late to create and execute on alternate alternative plans.

chicken meat

Africa’s Chicken Meat Market to Reach 11M Tonnes by 2030

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘Africa – Chicken Meat – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the chicken meat market in Africa amounted to $11.4B in 2018, jumping by 6.1% against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price).

The market value increased at an average annual rate of +1.8% over the period from 2013 to 2018; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with only minor fluctuations being recorded in certain years. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2017 when the market value increased by 8% y-o-y. Over the period under review, the chicken meat market reached its peak figure level in 2018 and is likely to see steady growth in the near future.

Consumption by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of chicken meat consumption in 2018 were South Africa (2.1M tonnes), Egypt (1.1M tonnes) and Morocco (720K tonnes), with a combined 52% share of total consumption. Angola, Algeria, Ghana, Libya, Nigeria, Malawi, Tunisia, Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 27%.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of chicken meat consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by Malawi, while chicken meat consumption for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest chicken meat markets in Africa were South Africa ($3.3B), Egypt ($1.8B) and Morocco ($1.1B), together accounting for 54% of the total market. Nigeria, Angola, Malawi, Libya, Ghana, Tunisia, Algeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congo lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 24%.

The countries with the highest levels of chicken meat per capita consumption in 2018 were Libya (39 kg per person), South Africa (36 kg per person) and Congo (23 kg per person).

Market Forecast to 2030

Driven by increasing demand for chicken meat in Africa, the market is expected to continue an upward consumption trend over the next decade. Market performance is forecast to retain its current trend pattern, expanding with an anticipated CAGR of +3.1% for the period from 2018 to 2030, which is projected to bring the market volume to 11M tonnes by the end of 2030.

Production in Africa

In 2018, the amount of chicken meat produced in Africa totaled 5.7M tonnes, surging by 4.2% against the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +2.4% over the period from 2013 to 2018. The general positive trend in terms of chicken meat output was largely conditioned by a moderate expansion of the number of producing animals and a relatively flat trend pattern in yield figures.

Production By Country in Africa

The countries with the highest volumes of chicken meat production in 2018 were South Africa (1.8M tonnes), Egypt (1.1M tonnes) and Morocco (720K tonnes), with a combined 62% share of total production. Algeria, Nigeria, Malawi, Tunisia, Libya, Tanzania, Sudan and Mozambique lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 21%.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of chicken meat production, amongst the main producing countries, was attained by Malawi, while chicken meat production for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Imports in Africa

In 2018, approx. 1.9M tonnes of chicken meat were imported in Africa; picking up by 23% against the previous year. In value terms, chicken meat imports amounted to $1.9B (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. In general, chicken meat imports continue to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2018 when imports increased by 21% against the previous year. The level of imports peaked at $2B in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2018, imports remained at a lower figure.

Imports by Country

Angola (432K tonnes) and South Africa (370K tonnes) represented the major importers of chicken meat in 2018, accounting for near 23% and 20% of total imports, respectively. Ghana (213K tonnes) ranks next in terms of the total imports with a 12% share, followed by Libya (6.6%), Congo (6.2%) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.8%). Benin (77K tonnes), Gabon (67K tonnes), Egypt (45K tonnes) and Guinea (37K tonnes) followed a long way behind the leaders.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of imports, amongst the main importing countries, was attained by Guinea, while imports for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, Angola ($465M), South Africa ($372M) and Ghana ($188M) appeared to be the countries with the highest levels of imports in 2018, together accounting for 53% of total imports. Libya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Egypt, Benin, Gabon and Guinea lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 31%.

Import Prices by Country

The chicken meat import price in Africa stood at $1,038 per tonne in 2018, approximately reflecting the previous year. Overall, the chicken meat import price continues to indicate a pronounced decline. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2017 an increase of 9.1% against the previous year. The level of import price peaked at $1,266 per tonne in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2018, import prices stood at a somewhat lower figure.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was Egypt ($1,705 per tonne), while Congo ($835 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by South Africa, while the other leaders experienced a decline in the import price figures.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

risk

How to Get a Handle on Risk in Uncertain Times: 10 Important Considerations

Risk: It’s the operative word on everyone’s mind right now. Whether it’s COVID-19 or oil prices, supply chain impacts or financial market concerns, understanding the impact of macro and micro-events, assessing their impact and putting in place the right action plans to mitigate that risk as best as possible is the priority task at hand.

Here we’ll examine ten steps to consider to ensure you’re being as thoughtful and rigorous as possible in your response to risk.

1. Take Care of Your PeopleHopefully, this has already been priority number one for your business after the past few weeks. How do we safeguard our people? How do we handle work from home – voluntary versus mandatory? What other flexible resourcing options do we provide – from sick leave to absenteeism considerations? What are the IT implications and subsequent human resource and capacity management concerns we need to consider and fully factor in? Err on the side of caution. Better to be safe than sorry.

2. Analyze Internal Risks – Before you can do that, you need to galvanize the right teams to be able to understand, assess and action against those risks. It’s critical to build the right cross-functional teams to be able to look at, and understand, the relevant issues to consider. This will involve finance, R&D (depending on your business) and marketing and sales. It will also involve teams like quality and sustainability leaders, as there will be implications and follow on ramifications despite your very best efforts.

3. Conduct Scenario Analyses – For critical categories, it’s important to get a handle on what alternative demand/supply options are. What are the pessimistic versus expected versus optimistic cases depending on what happens with the current situation, both in terms of the pandemic but also in terms of current and expected economic conditions? As part of any such assessment, you’ll need to score, assign probabilities and weights and adjust your thinking and actions accordingly.

4. Talk to Customers –This doesn’t tend to be the first thing people think about when it comes to procurement, but understanding the demand side implications for your business will be essential. How will demand be disrupted? Will there be specific products in your portfolio that will be more directly or severely impacted? Will this result in demand cutbacks or surges? Where will you source supply from? Can you cut back supply needs for others? How will buying patterns change – will there be channel shifts from offline to online? How does that play out in terms of critical suppliers and critical buys and requirements in the near to medium terms? Maintaining a dialogue with customers to understand their needs and issues and where all of this plays through for your team is essential.

5. Develop Plans for Strategic Categories –You’ll need to revisit your plans and the related risks around your most critical categories during a time of crisis. Make sure that these plans have been reviewed, the pressure points tested, the risk points analyzed and alternative plans considered. This could mean enhancing inventory levels (and rethinking inventory buffers based on the scenario planning we talked about earlier), assessing implications for delivery performance, gaining a view of multi-tiered supplier performance, increased inbound category visibility and more.

6. Examine Logistics Implications – By the same token, businesses must assess the logistics implications both inbound and outbound, either to make products or to ensure delivery. This has cost and timeline implications. All modes of transportation can be seen to be impacted, not least of which is shipping impacts – especially to and from China, but elsewhere, as well – whether these impacts are halts on movements, ramp downs, or the subsequently phased ramp back up. Or bypassing some of these options and going to airfreight which presents another level of cost to timeline tradeoffs.

7. Assess Liquidity – This will be critical and will call for a stronger partnership and alliance with finance. Looking at cash positions, assessing payables, and of course extending that into receivables, etc. will be essential. Add to this, talk of tightening credit markets and this makes it all the more important. Cash as always will be king if we need to endure near term instabilities, revenue disruptions, supply chain impacts, sourcing problems, and more

8. Assess Supplier Health – Part and parcel to all of this is assessing supplier health and evaluating who will be the most impacted. A clear view of your supplier segments – strategic versus mid-tier versus everyone else – is essential so you can focus your time and analysis accordingly.

For the most strategic suppliers, it’s critical to have a multi-tiered view of their supply base and related dependencies so you can adequately assess their performance and supply chain bottlenecks. This will involve structured risk analyses – looking across multiple variables beyond financials, to operational performance, to industry performance factors, to geographic and locational concerns and more. You’ll also need to identify alternate supply sources to shift production as and where needed, and as quickly as possible. Not all of this can be done at a moment’s notice. Some of it should have been done as part of a prior risk assessment exercise.

9. Think Ahead – Businesses can’t afford to simply think about today. Consider what the next three to six months look like. This is where scenario planning comes into play. It is critical to assess not only how you can react now but also how to prepare for eventualities later, when things are either fully back to normal or in some altered state based on longer-lasting ramifications from the events of today.

10. Work With Facts and Manage Emotion – Fundamentally, the most important thing you can do is to continuously monitor changes in a structured fashion. Have a programmed information collection and analysis mechanism. If we accept that the crisis is still unfolding and that the true impacts from a supply chain disruption perspective may not reveal themselves for months, we need to take tangible steps.  This can be done by establishing a process to monitor other regions outside the infected areas that could be impacted. Are ports outside the infected areas being impacted through disruption or through new regulations to protect against transmission of the virus?  Are suppliers struggling financially without access to the Chinese markets, jeopardizing their viability? Data will be important but data converted to relevant insight for your specific supply chain situation will be essential.

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About the author

Omer Abdullah is Co-founder and Managing Director of The Smart Cube and is responsible for managing the company’s Americas business.Omer has more than 25 years of management consulting, global corporate and industry experience across North America, Europe and Asia.

 Prior roles include A.T. Kearney (North America), Warner Lambert (USA) and The Perrier Group (Asia-Pacific). Omer has an MBA from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, USA and a BBA from the University of East Asia.

eaglerail

THE EAGLERAIL HAS LANDED: CEO MIKE WYCHOCKI PUSHES A “NO BRAINER” WHEN IT COMES TO MOVING SHIPPING CONTAINERS AT CONGESTED PORTS

It’s amazing where new logistics solutions come from. They are usually born by veteran shippers with visions on how to improve an existing operation. Or it can be a customer or customers seeking help in conquering a specific challenge that eventually resonates throughout the industry.

Then there is the inception of Chicago-based EagleRail Container Logistics’ signature solution. It can be traced to a pitch meeting for a new monorail in Brazil that was attended by a port authority official who was there more as a cheerleader than a participant.

Watching a Chicago marketing man’s PowerPoint presentation about his company’s passenger monorail system to local leaders in São Paulo eight years ago, the port representative, Jose Newton Gama, marveled at how the magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains holding people would be suspended under overhead tracks.

Then the Brazilian known by friends as Newton raised his hand.

“Excuse me?” he asked the Americano. “Could your system be adapted to hold shipping containers?”

That had never occurred to project designers, whose monorail cars for passengers are much lighter than would be required for cargo containers hauled by ships, trucks and freight trains. But the marketing man shared Gama’s question with his colleagues in the Windy City, and that planted the seed that eventually bore EagleRail Container Logistics.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Wychocki was an early investor who eventually bought out that marketing man, but the first EagleRail system is named “Newton” after the Brazilian who now sits on the company’s board of advisors. “He’s a great guy,” says Wychocki during a recent phone interview. “Newton is our biggest cheerleader.”

Wychocki’s no slouch with the pom-poms himself, having pitched EagleRail at 40 ports in 20 countries over the past five years. His company, which has offices around the world, is developing its first prototype in China, and studies are underway at six ports as EagleRail sets about raising $20 million in capital. (The window for small investments had just closed when Wychocki was interviewed. His company has since shifted its focus to large investors.)

The way ports have operated for decades left no need for a system like EagleRail’s. Big ships dock, cranes remove containers stacked on their decks and each box is then moved onto the back of a flatbed truck that either hauls it to a distribution center or an intermodal yard. Until recent years, no one really thought of disrupting the process because, as Wychocki puts it, “you could always find cheaper truck drivers.”

However, truck driver shortages, port-area air pollution and congestion caused by the time it takes to load and unload ever-larger ships have prompted serious soul searching when it comes to short hauls. Expanding the size of ports is often not an option due to the cities that have grown to surround them. This has led to the creation of large container parks for trucks and/or freight trains within a few miles of ports, but getting boxes to those remains problematic—at a time when megaships are only making matters more difficult.

“There is an old saying that ports are where old trucks go to die,” says Wychocki, who ticks off as problems associated with that mode of moving containers pollution, maintenance and fuel costs, as well as the issues of public safety because some drivers essentially live inside of their vehicles, which can attract prostitution and leave behind litter and human waste. Adding even more of these dirty trucks would necessitate more road building, which only adds to environmental concerns.

With ground space at ports a constantly shrinking commodity, tunneling underground may be viewed as an option. But Wychocki points out that many ports have emerged on unstable ground like backfill, and water, power and sewer lines are usually below what’s under the streets beyond port gates. The idea of a hyperloop has been bandied about, but it would require emptying shipping containers at the port, loading the contents into smaller boxes, sending those through to another yard, and then repacking the shipping containers on the other side. “That defeats the whole point” of relieving port congestion, the EagleRail CEO says.

Ah, but every port has unused air space, which is what Wychocki’s company seeks to exploit. “If an Amazon warehouse can lift and shuttle packages robotically,” he says, “why not do the same with a 60,000-pound package? Go to a warehouse. See how Amazon works with packages. They use overhead light rails. It’s an obvious idea, so obvious. It’s a no brainer when you think about it.”

Yes, Amazon also uses drones, but can you imagine the size it would have to be to carry a 60,000-pound shipping container? Wychocki sees a suspended container track as an extension of the cranes on every loading dock worldwide, which is why EagleRail systems are also all-electric and composed of the same crane hardware to avoid snags when it comes to replacing parts.

However, Wychocki is quick to note EagleRail is not a total solution when it comes to port congestion. He calculates that among the short-haul trucks leaving a port, 50 percent are going to 500 different locations, many of which are different states away, while the other half is bound for just a couple nearby destinations. EagleRail is geared toward the latter, and the problem with getting containers to them “is not technological; it’s who controls the five kilometers between the port and the intermodal facility,” he says.

Lifting equipment at ports “is exactly the same in all 200 countries,” he adds. “The part that is not the same is the back end. What is the port’s configuration? Where do the roads come in? What we do is form a consortium and build it with each local player, such as the port authority, the road authority, the national rail company, the power company. Getting everyone involved helps get procurement and environmental rights of way.”

He concedes that getting everyone on board “varies by location,” but when it comes to environmental concerns “everyone’s kind of wanting to do this because it means fewer trucks, and the power companies would prefer the use of electricity (over burning diesel). It sounds harder than it is to get everyone rowing in the same direction.”

Wychocki points to another bonus with EagleRail: It allows for total control of one’s intermodal yard because containers come and go on the same circular route—all day long. “We take this on as a disruptive business model,” he says, noting that short-haul trucks generally involve the use of data-chain-breaking clipboards and mobile phones. EagleRail systems track containers on them in real-time, rolling in all customs paperwork and billing invoices automatically.

“It’s amazing, I just came from the Port of Rotterdam, where I was a keynote,” Wychocki says. “Even the biggest ports in the world like Antwerp were saying, ‘This is great. Why isn’t anyone else doing it?’”

Actually, EagleRail accidentally created direct competition. Wychocki explains that during the initial design phase, his company worked with a foreign monorail concern whose cars used what were essentially aircraft tires rolling inside a closed channel. Concerns about maintaining a system that would invariably involve frequently changing tires—and thus slowing down operations—caused EagleRail to reject that design in favor of another third-party’s calling for steel-on-steel wheels. The designer with tires is pressing on with its own system and without EagleRail.

“I’m glad we didn’t go that route,” says Wychocki, who nonetheless expects more serious competition once EagleRail systems are up and running. Fortunately for the company, there are plenty of ports bursting at the seams that cannot wait that long. Wychocki says a question he invariably gets after pitching EagleRail is: “Where were you 10 years ago? Usually, there is an urgency.”

That’s why “our goal was to get out of the gate fast, build market share and our brand and create a quasi-franchise network,” says Wychocki, whose business model has EagleRail owning 25 percent of a system while the port and other local entities own the rest.

He estimates that within 10 years, 12 EagleRail systems will be operating. If that sounds like a pipe dream, consider that his company’s newsletter boasts 3,000 subscribers before a system is even up and running. Wychocki does not credit “brilliant marketing” for that keen interest. “It’s because every port’s problems are getting worse. Everyone is squealing about what to do with these giant ships that cannot be unloaded fast enough. They are desperate.”

response

Global Trade Magazine Launches COVID C.A.R.E. Business Response Program

Global Trade Magazine is ramping up efforts in supporting global businesses by utilizing a new set of tools found in its technology toolbox. Companies capable of adapting their technology through the crisis are doing so at a record pace as leading automotive giants are now churning out respirators instead of automobiles while whiskey producers scramble to make hand sanitizer to help meet demand. Global Trade Magazine is doing the same thing for global businesses and their customer base.

“Responding to global business leader and customer questions and concerns will be more critical than ever now. Doing so effectively is a monumental task for many global trade players, yet doing so will be the difference in businesses keeping their operations moving and laying off hundreds or even thousands. We’ve re-engineered our Artificial Intelligence product to meet customer demands,” stated Eric Kleinsorge, CEO and Publisher of Global Trade Magazine.

The Global Trade COVID C.A.R.E. (Coronavirus Automated Response Effort) Local Response Program takes a unique approach in supporting global businesses and their efforts in responding to customer concerns by utilizing AI response systems. This integrated system Records, Responds, Alerts, Prioritizes and Completes requests from customers that need information and answers from global businesses in the global trade community. Instead of fearing this change, the Global Trade Mag team linked arms and stepped up to the challenge. From receiving requests and concerns to automated feedback, request prioritization, and system follow-ups, the Global Trade Response Program offers an integrated system of checks and balances that captures every request from every customer.

“We have been in the business of helping global companies communicate with their customers and now it’s our turn to help these businesses communicate and update these customers,” Kleinsorge concluded.

To request information on how this program can help your business, please click here or call (469) 778-2606.

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About GSLI/Global Trade Magazine

Global Site Location Industries (GSLI) is the parent company of Global Trade Magazine and was founded in 1994 by Eric Kleinsorge with a very specific goal in mind: grow local and global communities while bringing business projects to life through strategic economic development partnerships and customer management strategies. He is recognized in over 110 articles as an industry expert and has conducted interviews with well-known figures including George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Jay Leno, Jerry Jones, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Dell, and many more.

Not only do the companies support community and global branding, but we bring company goals to life through a tailored approach to attracting sustainable businesses and customer partnerships. We take pride in our reputation as an expert in assisting expanding and relocating companies partner with the world’s finest companies. For more than 20 years, GSLI has been the premier partner of choice for companies– both big and small, looking to create a solid economic and customer foundation primed for growth and success.

smart contracts

How to Save Time and Money with Blockchain Smart Contracts

Manufacturing processes are growing increasingly complex — especially as the coronavirus pandemic spreads — in today’s global marketplace. With so many moving parts, it’s becoming more difficult to reliably and efficiently track actions and data along the supply chain. Blockchain-enabled smart contracts are emerging as a solution — one that provides transparency and ensures everyone along the supply chain is following the same set of agreed-upon rules.

With everyone on the supply chain sharing the same logic and data, manufacturers can automate time-sensitive processes and avoid costly dispute resolutions. Blockchain is on the rise, and Gartner predicts that 30% of manufacturing companies making more than $5 billion in revenue will have invested in blockchain-powered projects by 2023.

Implementing the technology and data infrastructure to convert processes into smart contracts can seem daunting, and companies that don’t hit the $5 billion mark will be slower to catch up.

The fear of failing after the investment can be a serious deterrent. But smart contracts save enough time and money for manufacturers that the costs of waiting might be greater than the upfront investment needed to get started.

The Value of Smart Contracts

The core values of blockchain are transparency and trust, and smart contracts play a pivotal role in providing these benefits. Taken together in a business context, blockchain-based smart contracts make it possible to avoid disputes. A smart contract is software that automates a single trusted version of an agreement between parties. They might rely on one version of data about what’s happening (or has happened) and record the results of the contract, such as funds being transferred in exchange for using a piece of equipment.

Without smart contracts, businesses working together in manufacturing have to maintain separate systems that encode business rules with slight differences. The data they use might also vary from the data other companies use, making it difficult to reconcile any issues. These differences lead to disputes that require significant time and effort to resolve.

The automation and data standards that smart contracts provide allow manufacturers to consider different ways to work with partners along their supply chain. Their partnerships can be based on performance or quality in ways that would have been impossible to implement — much less trust — without the use of blockchain and smart contracts.

How Do Smart Contracts Work?

In a blockchain system, the word “contracts” doesn’t carry the same meaning as legal contracts. Instead, smart contracts are more broadly used to encode logic that often isn’t written explicitly in a contract. Unlike traditional software, they’re used to create business logic that multiple parties can rely on and trust.

Many of us are familiar with the concept of business rules in software systems. In the blockchain world, smart contracts are the business rules shared by the users of the blockchain. Think of blockchain like a shared database: Smart contracts are the rules that define how data can be entered or changed in the shared database. Within the supply chain, smart contracts are typically the rules shared by multiple businesses in the supply chain that are also users of the blockchain system.

For most applications, smart contracts can be executable versions of traditional business contracts, or they might be new logic that coordinates long-running processes and activities across different businesses. They’re trusted because they’re created and housed on a blockchain, which means the code is typically visible to system developers, business analysts, and auditors.

Although smart contracts are triggered by some external event, such as a user’s action or a change in external data (a commodity’s price, for example), the code they run is normally approved in advance by all businesses involved. Currently, businesses are already utilizing blockchain-secured smart contracts for a range of supply chain processes.

For example, some companies combine smart contracts with Internet of Things sensors to record the movement of supplies into a manufacturing facility. Then, they automate payment for those supplies. Others record the operating conditions of a machine to determine if maintenance is required or gauge the condition of manufactured products to ensure standards are met.

Such contracts produce equipment usage records and quality control checks in real-time, and parties on all sides of the contract can trust the data. How we handle everything — from securing supplies to monitoring equipment and manufacturing products — can be improved with the strategic use of blockchain-powered smart contracts.

Being Smart About Which Contracts to Convert

As companies convert more intrabusiness processes into smart contracts, the benefits of doing so grow easier to recognize. Shipments and payment approvals can be verified in real-time, and disputes are eliminated or resolved immediately with no intermediaries. The time and cost savings are substantial.

By using these strategies to determine where to use smart contracts, companies of all sizes have a better chance at reaping the benefits much sooner:

1. Break down costs before the converting starts. The first time a company implements a smart contract, the costs of establishing the blockchain system will be relatively high. These initial costs can often be the biggest deterrent, especially for smaller, less tech-driven companies. Over time, though, the incremental costs of automating smart contracts will go down. Account for this initial cost by taking time to identify the contracts that are currently the most costly to execute.

2. Prioritize external contracts over internal ones. Not every contract needs to be a smart one. In fact, the costs of executing some processes might not justify the investment in automating them. Focus on agreements, contracts, and other expectations that are between the company and another business (or better yet, where more than two businesses are involved), and rule out internal agreements between departments. Because trust is less of an issue, internal disputes can be reconciled relatively easily. Putting them on a blockchain would just be overkill.

3. Focus on contract difficulty — not frequency. Because the goal of automation is to create less work, it’s tempting to go straight for the contracts that are executed most often. Instead, focus on the amount of effort it takes to use each contract rather than how often it’s used. High-frequency contracts might be executed with few or no disputes, whereas low-frequency ones might be costly to manage due to complex and/or unclear terms. These are much better candidates.

4. Start with material sourcing for maximum impact. To know for sure which processes can benefit most from conversion into smart contracts, look for people throughout the organization who deal with reconciliation, quality control, and/or audit support. Also, consider the data used in each transaction. Between both parties, how important is trusting that data? Material sourcing is often ripe for improvement, and trust in data is critical to the relationship between manufacturer and supplier.

The ability to create smart contracts is becoming one of the best-known benefits of using blockchain technology in the manufacturing realm. Investing in the technology might be costly at first, but getting in on the ground floor will be easier if you use it to turn the right processes into irrefutable smart contracts.

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Alex Rosen is the vice president of business development at Chainyard, a blockchain consulting company focused on delivering production solutions that address financial services, supply chain, transportation, government, and healthcare pain points.

compliance

U.S. Regulators Focus on Compliance Efforts in Enforcement Decisions Involving International Companies

Over the past few years, U.S. regulators have made it clear that having comprehensive and effective compliance policies covering trade is a must, regardless of the company size, location or industry. The government’s move to formalize the importance of compliance programs is a clear signal of what it expects and a harbinger of what is to come.

Why Is Trade Compliance Important Regardless of the Company’s Location?

Trade compliance should be the goal of every global company, in particular as a risk mitigation measure and a positive value proposition. A compliance program serves as a security blanket for large financial institutions accustomed to dealing with regulations, small startups with a cloud-based platform, and even companies with no physical presence in the United States. A trade compliance program lays the groundwork for international companies on how to conduct business in or with the United States.

With changing industry regulations, it is critical to keep up to date and have a compliance program that is effective. Failure to have a strong compliance program could result in increased legal exposure, potentially leading to fines and penalties as well as negative publicity associated with an enforcement action. Maintaining an effective trade compliance program could help companies mitigate penalties for potential violations, and is ultimately cost-effective. For example, last year, the U.S. government imposed $1.3 billion in penalties on cargo firms, penalties that could have been mitigated with robust compliance programs.

 Avoiding U.S. Sanctions

Engaging in the complex global supply chain may be a financial win, but it requires formalized diligence procedures to ensure your company does not run afoul of the law. The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has released guidance encouraging organizations to employ a risk-based approach to sanctions compliance and focus on five essential components: senior management commitment, risk assessments, internal controls, testing and auditing, and training. To incentivize companies to engage in international transactions, OFAC also provides that in the case of a violation, it will give favorable consideration to companies with effective sanctions compliance programs and that the existence of such a program may mitigate a civil monetary penalty.

OFAC is not just issuing guidance, it is increasing its enforcement efforts involving both U.S. and foreign entities. It continues to designate more non-U.S. entities that have helped evade U.S. sanctions. For example, several Chinese shipping companies were found to have violated North Korean sanctions, and as a result, were blocked from doing business in the U.S. or with U.S. parties. In January 2020, Eagle Shipping, a Marshall Islands ship management company with headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, agreed to pay $1,125,000 to settle its potential civil liability for 36 apparent violations of the Burmese Sanctions Regulations. The violations involved Eagle Shipping’s affiliate in Singapore entering into a chartering agreement with Myawaddy—an entity identified on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. Eagle filed an application with OFAC requesting a license authorizing it to carry sand cargoes purchased from Myawaddy but continued its dealings while the OFAC application was pending. OFAC ultimately denied the license, but Eagle resumed its dealings with Myawaddy, carrying cargo from Burma to Singapore.

Among the aggravating factors, OFAC considered Eagle’s status as a sophisticated shipping company, which should have had expertise in international trade and global shipping transactions. Among the mitigating factors, OFAC considered Eagle’s efforts to develop and implement a formal sanctions compliance program with specific policies and procedures for compliance screening, transaction checklists, and red-flag identification tools.

Compliance Under Commercial Export Laws

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which administers U.S. commercial export control regulations, also has published comprehensive guidance for companies working to develop or shore up compliance materials. In its guidance, BIS identified the following elements as foundational in creating an effective Export Compliance Program (ECP): management commitment, completing regular risk assessments, obtaining proper export authorization, record-keeping, training, compliance audits, addressing export violations and taking corrective actions, and maintaining your ECP. Like OFAC, BIS emphasizes the importance of tailoring your ECP to your organization and business based on size, volume of exports, geographic location, and other relevant factors. Companies that fail to comply with regulations that govern export controls have experienced significant penalties.

The U.S. export control laws govern not only U.S. companies, but also certain export activities of foreign companies dealing with the export of certain products, technology, or services from the United States to a foreign country. For example, most recently, BIS imposed substantial export and reexport restrictions on Huawei, a Chinese company, and its 68 non-U.S. affiliates in connection with Huawei’s violations of U.S. export laws specific to the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. As part of that action, BIS restricted any export, re-export, or transfer of U.S.-origin technology, commodity, or software to Huawei and its entities without an export license.

This enforcement action ultimately impacted both the U.S. and non-U.S. businesses, including big and small tech companies, suppliers, importers, shippers, and financial institutions. Separately, in 2017, the U.S. government imposed a $1.2 billion criminal fine against ZTE, a Chinese telecom equipment company, for shipping U.S.-origin telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea. These two cases have affected how U.S. and foreign companies view their compliance programs; they also have incentivized the development and implementation of more robust compliance programs, including vetting procedures and sanctions checks that ensure adherence to the U.S. export control regulations.

Recommended Steps for Ensuring Compliance and Mitigating Risk

-The benefits of having a compliance program in place when a mistake happens are significant. When creating your tailored trade compliance policies and procedures, remember the following:

-Compliance programs should include a comprehensive, independent, and objective testing or audit function to ensure that your business is aware of how its programs are performing.

-Programs should be updated regularly in light of constantly changing regulatory and business environments.

-Ensure that your compliance program has comprehensive coverage to track all parties involved in import and export transactions.

-Even products that seem harmless can be used in ways that companies do not intend. As an organization, you are responsible for knowing how your products will be used and for avoiding government-prohibited end uses.

-Watch for red flags on BIS’s published list.

-Watch for “deemed” exports, which are released in the United States of technology or source code to a foreign person. Such a release is deemed to be an export to the foreign person’s most recent country of citizenship or permanent residency, which may require a license or even be prohibited.

Now more than ever, government offices and agencies are providing the industry with guidance on how best to comply with trade regulations. However, this also means that companies can no longer claim ignorance of trade regulations. Today, companies participating in the global marketplace must take proactive preventive measures to ensure compliance, mitigate risk, and minimize potential penalties.

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 Doreen Edelman and Zarema Jaramillo are attorneys at Lowenstein Sandler.

businesses

How Businesses can Weather COVID-19: Start with Empathy to Employees

Major U.S. businesses are adjusting operations, laying off employees or reducing hours in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s uncharted territory for the nation, and companies from large brands to small businesses, like everyone else, are operating without a playbook to deal with an unprecedented public health threat that will also have economic implications. How businesses adjust to the pandemic and respond to this “new normal” is critical to the future of their business.

“The most important part is showing empathy to employees – now more than ever in these uncertain times,” says Ed Mitzen (www.edmitzen.com), founder of a health and wellness marketing agency and ForbesBook author of More Than a Number: The Power of Empathy and Philanthropy in Driving Ad Agency Performance.

“While every company is dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to keep in mind that your employees are being affected in more ways than one. Added challenges to daily life now include your partner working next to you, your children being home from school, and having to keep an extra close eye on elderly relatives. In these unusual circumstances, people will notice which companies are treating their employees with empathy and compassion and which are not.”

A business leader’s response during a time like this defines who they are as a leader.

Mitzen thinks this challenging time could be used by business owners to assess their company culture and consider that how they treat employees is central to that culture and vital for business results. He explains how leaders can show empathy to employees, strengthen company culture and drive performance:

Lead with support, not force. “Culture starts at the top, and the best results come when leaders support their people and help them get the most out of life, rather than trying to squeeze them to work harder and harder,” Mitzen says. “People can sacrifice for the job for only so long before they burn out. It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes prioritizing life over work actually improves the work product. Once you hire good people, you don’t have to push them with crazy deadlines to squeeze productivity out of them.”

Build a team of caring people. “Business is a team sport,” Mitzen says. “To have an empathetic culture, you need people who care for each other and work well together. Build teams by looking for people who lead with empathy.  Don’t hire jerks. People who are super-talented but can’t get along with others tend to destroy the team dynamics, and the work product suffers.”

Define a positive culture – and the work. Showing empathy to employees can be an engine generating creativity and productivity. “The internal culture at a company defines the work the company produces,” Mitzen says. “Culture influences who chooses to work for you, how long they stay, and the quality of work they do. And the core of the culture is empathy, starting with employees and extending to customers and the communities that you live in. There’s a strong connection between a healthy work culture, which inspires people, and the work customers are receiving. That kind of company makes sure customers are treated the same way they are being treated.”

“Now more than ever, empathy, kindness and compassion are important values to keep at the forefront of your organization,” Mitzen says. “Business leaders can take the lead in doing the right thing, starting with their employees.”

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Ed Mitzen (www.edmitzen.com) is the ForbesBook author of More Than a Number: The Power of Empathy and Philanthropy in Driving Ad Agency Performance and the founder of Fingerpaint, an independent advertising agency grossing $60 million in revenue. A health and wellness marketing entrepreneur for 25 years, Mitzen also built successful firms CHS and Palio Communications. Fingerpaint has been included on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for seven straight years and garnered agency of the year nominations and wins from MM&M, Med Ad News, and PM360. Mitzen was named Industry Person of the Year by Med Ad News in 2016 and a top boss by Digiday in 2017. A graduate of Syracuse University with an MBA from the University of Rochester, Mitzen has written for Fortune, Forbes, HuffPost, and the Wall Street Journal.

paper

Spain’s Production of Corrugated Paper and Paperboard Posted Solid Gains over the Last Decade

The revenue of the corrugated paper market in Spain amounted to $635M in 2018, flattening at the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). Overall, corrugated paper consumption continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2011 when the market value increased by 14% year-to-year. In that year, the corrugated paper market reached its peak level of $806M. From 2012 to 2018, the growth of the corrugated paper market remained at a lower figure.

Production in Spain

In 2018, the amount of corrugated paper and paperboard produced in Spain amounted to 947K tonnes, approximately reflecting the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +3.6% over the period from 2008 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded over the period under review. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2017 when production volume increased by 14% against the previous year. Over the period under review, corrugated paper production reached its maximum volume in 2018 and is expected to retain its growth in the near future.

In value terms, corrugated paper production totaled $624M in 2018 estimated in export prices. Overall, corrugated paper production continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2010 when production volume increased by 15% against the previous year. Corrugated paper production peaked at $832M in 2011; however, from 2012 to 2018, production failed to regain its momentum.

Exports from Spain

In 2018, the corrugated paper exports from Spain stood at 22K tonnes, going up by 40% against the previous year. Overall, corrugated paper exports, however, continue to indicate a pronounced contraction. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2018 when exports increased by 40% against the previous year. Over the period under review, corrugated paper exports attained their peak figure at 32K tonnes in 2008; however, from 2009 to 2018, exports failed to regain their momentum.

In value terms, corrugated paper exports amounted to $23M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. Over the period under review, corrugated paper exports, however, continue to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2018 when exports increased by 40% year-to-year. Over the period under review, corrugated paper exports reached their peak figure at $25M in 2008; however, from 2009 to 2018, exports failed to regain their momentum.

Exports by Country

France (11K tonnes), Saudi Arabia (6.5K tonnes) and Portugal (3.6K tonnes) were the main destinations of corrugated paper exports from Spain, with a combined 97% share of total exports.

From 2008 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of exports, amongst the main countries of destination, was attained by Saudi Arabia, while the other leaders experienced mixed trend patterns.

In value terms, France ($9.1M), Saudi Arabia ($7.9M) and Portugal ($2.3M) constituted the largest markets for corrugated paper exported from Spain worldwide, together accounting for 82% of total exports.

Portugal recorded the highest growth rate of exports, in terms of the main countries of destination over the last decade, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Export Prices by Country

The average corrugated paper export price stood at $1,045 per tonne in 2018, approximately mirroring the previous year. Over the last decade, it increased at an average annual rate of +3.1%. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2011 an increase of 36% year-to-year. The export price peaked at $1,202 per tonne in 2015; however, from 2016 to 2018, export prices failed to regain their momentum.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was Saudi Arabia ($1,209 per tonne), while the average price for exports to Portugal ($631 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2008 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was recorded for supplies to Mauritania, while the prices for the other major destinations experienced mixed trend patterns.

Imports into Spain

In 2018, the imports of corrugated paper and paperboard into Spain stood at 5.6K tonnes, falling by -3.8% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the total imports indicated a mild increase from 2008 to 2018: its volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.6% over the last decade. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Based on 2018 figures, corrugated paper imports increased by +114.3% against 2016 indices. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2017 with an increase of 123% year-to-year. Over the period under review, corrugated paper imports reached their peak figure at 7.1K tonnes in 2011; however, from 2012 to 2018, imports remained at a lower figure.

In value terms, corrugated paper imports amounted to $6.4M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. Overall, corrugated paper imports, however, continue to indicate a notable increase. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2017 with an increase of 140% y-o-y. In that year, corrugated paper imports attained their peak of $7.3M, and then declined slightly in the following year.

Imports by Country

Germany (1.8K tonnes), France (1.4K tonnes) and Italy (1.1K tonnes) were the main suppliers of corrugated paper imports to Spain, with a combined 78% share of total imports. Slovenia, Portugal, China and the UK lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 24%.

From 2008 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of imports, amongst the main suppliers, was attained by Slovenia, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest corrugated paper suppliers to Spain were Germany ($2.7M), France ($1.7M) and Italy ($1.3M), together comprising 87% of total imports. Slovenia, Portugal, China, and the UK lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 24%.

Among the main suppliers, Slovenia experienced the highest growth rate of imports, over the last decade, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Import Prices by Country

The average corrugated paper import price stood at $1,144 per tonne in 2018, coming down by -8.3% against the previous year. Overall, the import price indicated a slight increase from 2008 to 2018: its price increased at an average annual rate of +1.4% over the last decade. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2010 when the average import price increased by 26% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the average import prices for corrugated paper and paperboard attained their peak figure at $1,248 per tonne in 2017, and then declined slightly in the following year.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was the UK ($1,536 per tonne), while the price for Slovenia ($900 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2008 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Germany, while the prices for the other major suppliers experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform