WEF pushes supply chain up the agenda

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Ensuring that supply chain is on the boardroom agenda is a key challenge for many industry professionals. But how much greater is the challenge of ensuring it is at the core of international trade agreements?

The thought is prompted by a new report from the World Economic Forum, “Outlook on the Logistics & Supply Chain Industry 2013”.

The European Union and the United States are currently engaged in talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and, the forum argues, “Thinking supply chain” should be a core element of that partnership.

The forum, through its Logistics and Supply Chain Council, argues that the business community should uses the TTIP as an opportunity to operationalise the approaches set out in the WEF report Enabling Trade: Valuing Growth Opportunities.

The EU and US are similar in terms of per capita incomes and economic size, but differ in their approach towards regulation, it says. The TTIP offers them both an opportunity to identify ways to address the cost-increasing impacts of these differences and an imperative to do so.

And it warns: “If the European Union and the United States cannot make meaningful progress in lowering policy-induced supply chain costs, the TTIP will be a failure.”

This is all part of a wider argument for a more holistic approach to trade negotiations which tend to separate trade facilitation talks from negotiations on services.

All too often policy-makers see trade negotiations in abstract political terms that fail to take into account the concrete realities of processing and moving goods around the world.

Success in the addressing supply chain issues in the TTIP would a significant step forward.

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