Securing the Global Trade Market

One of the most powerful economic engines in the United States is global economic growth. Advances in communication technology, trade barriers and production cost reductions have furthered global capital markets and provided new economic opportunities.

In January, the White House announced a national strategy for global supply chain security, an initiative to strengthen global economic opportunities and protect the welfare and interests of the United States. The focus of this strategy is aimed at the worldwide network of transportation, postal and shipping lanes, assets and infrastructures throughout the chain.

One of the two goals set is to promote the efficient and secure movement of goods. This means promoting the timely, effective flow of legitimate commerce while protecting and securing the supply chain from exploitation and its vulnerability to disruption.

The White House suggested that to achieve this goal there would have to be an enhancement of the integrity of goods as they move through the global supply chain so that threats could be understood and resolved early on. This means strengthening the security of physical infrastructures, conveyances and information assets as trade is maximized through modernizing supply chain infrastructures and processes.

Secondly, there is a strategy to foster a global supply chain system that can withstand evolving threats and hazards and recover from disruptions. This means action on the part of state, local, tribal and territorial governments, as well as the private sector and international communities. It also means managing risk by identification, assessing and prioritizing efforts by using layered defenses and adapting a security posture according to changing operational environments.

The true goal of the global supply chain will support innovation and prosperity by securely and reliably moving goods throughout the United States and worldwide in a timely manner. This means protection of the current system’s continuity and building for the future with cost-effective measures.

The federal government will have to resolve threats early so the flow of commerce is not jeopardized, and it will have to do so by implementing security processes into supply chain operations so that concerns can be resolved as quickly as possible.

It also will be important to improve verification and detection capabilities to identify goods that are not what they appear to be and ensure they are not contaminated or prohibited. This will prevent cargo from being compromised or misdirected as it moves through the system.

Also important will be the enhancement of security infrastructure and conveyances, which will protect the supply chain and critical nodes. This will limit access to cargo, infrastructure, conveyances and information to those with legitimate and relevant roles and varied responsibilities.

A secure global supply chain will maximize the flow of legitimate trade and modernize the supply chain infrastructure and processes to meet future market opportunities and help develop new mechanisms to facilitate low-risk cargo. It also simplifies trade compliance processes and refines incentives to encourage enhanced stakeholder collaboration. Galvanizing action is threefold:

  • Integrate federal efforts by funding smarter and more cost-effective ways to address security threats and maximize resources and expertise from across the government. The White House plans to improve initiatives throughout the government by developing similar requirements, streamlining processes and enhancing information-sharing practices.
  • Foster an all-of-nation approach to leverage critical roles played by state, local, tribal and territorial governments and private sector partners in strengthening supply chains. The government will manage the seams between its activities and federal efforts by empowering stakeholders to contribute to the mission. This also will develop a culture of mutual interest and shared responsibility.
  • Thinking globally will enhance the coordination with the international community and foreign stakeholders who also have key supply chain roles and responsibilities. The global supply chain transcends national borders and federal jurisdiction; therefore, global standards need to be developed and implemented to strengthen detection, interdiction and information sharing capabilities, and promote end-to-end supply chain security efforts within the international community.

In order to make this work expeditiously, the global supply chain will need the support of innovation. This will lead to prosperity by securely and reliably moving goods and services within domestic borders and around the world. Partners will be able to stand together, which also stands as a warning to adversaries that the government’s efforts to strengthen this system will continue. There is a solid foundation in place, and the strategy for global supply chain security will be an ongoing part of future supply efforts.

The threat of natural disasters remains, and the global supply chain and its components continue to be an attractive target for terrorist attacks as well as criminal exploitation, but the security of U.S. citizens is paramount while the nation goes about the business of promoting economic growth in a competitive world.

This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Security Today.

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