In a groundbreaking session held on November 21, experts from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international organizations gathered to delve into the concept of supply chain resilience. This meeting, the first in a series of thematic sessions, aimed to establish a comprehensive understanding of supply chain resilience, providing a platform for members to develop strategies within this framework.
Chaired by Professor Marcelo Olarreaga from the University of Geneva, the panel of experts discussed varying definitions of supply chain resilience and examined how crises impact global trade. A significant focus was placed on identifying elements that affect the rapid restoration of goods flow post-crisis and exploring the roles of government and international cooperation in crisis preparedness.
Victor Stolzenburg from the WTO's Economic Research and Statistics Division pointed out the absence of a universal definition of resilience. Referencing the WTO World Trade Report 2021, he defined resilience as a system's capability to anticipate, handle, and recover from disruptions.
Stolzenburg emphasized the robustness of global trade and supply chains, citing their crucial role in mitigating the effects of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the need for cooperative solutions to address supply chain bottlenecks and uncertainties.
Daria Taglioni, representing the World Bank's Development Research Group, discussed the challenges of addressing global existential threats amid economic stress, advocating for global cooperation over deglobalization. She underscored the pivotal role of international organizations in harmonizing trade with security and environmental policies.
Jan Hoffmann from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade Logistics Branch highlighted the significance of supply chains in influencing prices, employment, and development. He stressed the importance of enhancing maritime transport and logistics to bolster supply chain resilience against increasing disruptions.
Hoffmann also announced the inaugural Global Supply Chain Forum, organized by UNCTAD and the Government of Barbados for May 2024. This forum aims to address ongoing and future supply chain challenges, focusing on sustainable and resilient transport, trade facilitation, and the transition to low-carbon energy in international transport.
Ms. Lazzat Daniyarova from the World Customs Organization (WCO) introduced the newly endorsed concept of "Customs-Industry Resilience." According to the WCO, resilience encompasses an entity's comprehensive preparedness to confront a spectrum of crises, ensuring the continuous delivery of essential goods and services.
Daniyarova elaborated on the crucial role of government and international coordination in crisis management, response, and recovery. She outlined strategies including disaster management, the creation of disaster task forces, and the revision of business continuity plans.
The session's Chair, Renata Cristaldo of Paraguay, praised the diversity of perspectives presented, fostering an environment for further discourse on supply chain resilience. She encouraged members to continue these discussions, highlighting the significance of a rules-based multilateral trading system in crisis response and supply chain operation.