Janet Napolitano was in Brussels last week to whip up support for the US government’s strategy to outwit any potential terrorist threat – and supply chain was clearly a the top of the agenda.
Napolitano, who is secretary of homeland security in the Obama government, said: “Securing the global supply chain is part and parcel of securing both the lives of people around the world, and the stability of the global economy.”
She is hoping that a partnership with the World Customs Organisation will help enlist other nations, international bodies and the private sector in increasing the security of the global supply chain.
“The United States is committed to working with our international partners and the private sector to keep this powerful engine of commerce, jobs, and prosperity from being attacked or disrupted,” she said.
Napolitano outlined three main elements:
* Preventing terrorists from exploiting the global supply chain to plan and execute attacks
* Protecting the most critical elements of the supply chain system, such as transport hubs, from attacks and disruptions
* Building the resilience of the global supply chain to ensure that if something does happen, the supply chain can recover quickly.
The aim is to build on the current programme, Project Global Shield, which was launched last year by The US government, the World Customs Organisation, Interpol, and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, and involves some 60 nations are sharing information.
The Department of Homeland Security now insists on the screening of all cargo on passenger planes within and departing from the United States, as well as 100 per cent of US-bound high-risk air cargo.
It is also working with private sector and international partners to acquire advance information about cargo before it leaves for the United States to identify and screen items based on risk and intelligence.
It is now looking to strengthen cargo screening standards internationally; use high-tech systems to track and detect precursors; and increase technical assistance and training to partner countries.
Clearly, there will be concerns over the potential disruption such measures could cause but it is hard to argue against measures that strengthen the security of the supply chain globally – after all the consequences of a breach in security don’t bear thinking about.