Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trade, Security and a National Strategy

As reported here, the United States released a paper called the National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security which highlights the importance of the international supply chain in the context of international trade today. Weaving national security, international trade, global supply chains and domestic policy interests into one continuum, this Strategy does not view national security and increasing economic growth and economic efficiency as necessarily contradictory.

The two main goals of this strategy being promoting the efficient and secure movement of goods and fostering a resilient supply chain, the paper argues,
"International trade has been and continues to be a powerful engine of United States and global economic growth  In recent years, communications technology advances and trade barrier and production cost reductions have contributed to global capital market expansion and new economic opportunity The global supply chain system that supports this trade is essential to the United States’ economy and is a critical global asset,
 Through the National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security (the Strategy), we articulate the United States Government’s policy to strengthen the global supply chain in order to protect the welfare and interests of the American people and secure our Nation’s economic prosperity  Our focus in this Strategy is the worldwide network of transportation, postal, and shipping pathways, assets, and infrastructures by which goods are moved from the point of manufacture until they reach an end consumer, as well as supporting communications infrastructure and systems."
 Laying down a detailed roadmap of how the strategy will be implemented across stakeholders, it concludes thus,
" The global supply chain system that we seek will support innovation and prosperity by expeditiously, securely, and reliably moving goods and services within our domestic borders and around the world  This Strategy stands as testimony to partners, as well as warning to adversaries, that our efforts to strengthen this vital system will continue  We will build upon the solid foundation of previous efforts but also look ahead to the future we are working to create  Our Strategy is therefore one of continuity and of change The threat of natural disasters remains, and the global supply chain and its components continue to be attractive targets for terrorist attacks and criminal exploitation  And while the security of our citizens and our nation is the paramount concern, we must work to promote America’s future economic growth and international competitiveness by remaining open for businesses to the world."

International supply chains in the globalised trade world are common. However, this is perhaps the first "national strategy" addressing it in the context of national security. It is rare to come across a document piloted by the Department of Homeland Security about international trade and supply chains. Strange bedfellows in the context of changing times? Will the implementation of this strategy have an impact on multilateral trade rules?

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