Reconfiguring the Supply Chain
Davos 2024 Session Recap
Friend-shoring and re-shoring were essential ideas discussed that reflected how governments and companies are de-risking the supply chain.
Demonstrating Proactive Resilience amidst geopolitical tensions, increasing automation and changing labour costs, was a key takeaway during a discussion on the ‘Supply Chains of the Future’, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024, in Davos today.
In a world that is permanently changed following the global pandemic, along with growing instability due to international conflicts and supply chain disruptions, future-proofing the global supply chains is paramount.
According to Kathy Wengel, Executive Vice-President, Johnson & Johnson, some of the factors that must steer present global supply chain strategies include incorporating proactive resilience, developing its digital journey and sustainability practices, and building a strong ecosystem of partners. “It first starts with your customer; how are you building that supply chain and its capabilities to be able to meet those needs in the next few years? We look at the supply chain design not only through the lens of operational efficiency, but also the risks we are facing as a supply chain.”
Developing on the conversation of leveraging technology and skills, along with the core development of global standards, Tobias Meyer, CEO, DHL Group, elaborated, “Governments must build on existing strength and commit to doing no harm. We must focus the interventions on clear incentives – tax carbon for instance, and get to simple rules that are reliable and that investments can be based on, while not creating additional risk for businesses with constantly changing regulations.”
Commenting on companies now being accountable for the whole supply chain in the EU, he also highlighted that this was an example of well-intended regulation but we must be mindful of the geopolitical impact of extra-territorial reach. “The West constitutes 10% of the world’s population, not 90% - it cannot describe to the rest of the global supply chain how things need to be done.”
In another session titled ‘TradeTech's Trillion-Dollar Promise’ , the conversation moved towards how technology is not only revolutionising global commerce and investment, but also digitalising the trade ecosystem, while holding the potential to increase trade by nearly $9 trillion by 2026 within the G7 alone.
But the benefits of technological advancements to the supply chain do not translate uniformly. Deemah Al-Yahya, Secretary-General, Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), Saudi Arabia provided context to this issue, “The digital divide is increasing between countries. The need to expediate the digital transformation across the supply chain requires a lot of investment and support. We need to move from an egocentric approach to an ecocentric approach, which in turn will increase knowledge-sharing between countries.”
Vincent Clerc, CEO, A.P. Møller-Maersk, added, “Some of the challenges point to the global supply chain still being fragmented. There is no standard data interface and exchange between agencies in trade. There is a need for a multi-pronged effort here.”
Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE rounded up the session as he said, “Four years ago, before the pandemic, no one was expecting or implementing a digital transformation. But suddenly, trade technology was adopted globally and shone a light on the many complexities in trade infrastructure. However, the UAE will continue adopting new technological solutions and promote best practices globally.”