The pandemic has impacted the core operations of every global supply chain, but a new study now shows that Covid-19 has also created “secondary disruptions” such as increased migration, cargo theft, and child labor.

The finding comes from London-based BSI, which released its latest quarterly review of threats and trends in global supply chain security, business continuity, food safety and fraud, and corporate social responsibility.

BSI compiles its report using a tool it calls the Supply Chain Risk Exposure Evaluation Network (SCREEN). One of their top conclusions was that the outbreak has led to varying responses by individual governments, wreaking havoc on supply chain continuity. 

For example, a rise in Covid-19 cases is leading global supply chain hubs such as Bangladesh and India to lock down, creating supply chain pinch points. This has resulted in delays to manufacturing and global shipping and could likely impact specific sectors such as agriculture. As virus outbreaks continue, a country-by-country approach to containing the virus is expected, which could increase temporary disruptions to supply chain movement.

“Long-held practices around supply chain resilience have been completely upended,” Jim Yarbrough, BSI’s global intelligence program manager, said in a release. “As organizations begin the process of rebuilding their supply chains following the Covid-19 pandemic, BSI’s latest SCREEN data indicates that in addition to the virus, organizations face new and additional threats, underscoring the need for business continuity planning.”

In addition to describing this primary impact, BSI is also tracking a range of so-called secondary disruptions:

  • In cargo theft, SCREEN has detected an increase in stealing not only of Covid-related medical devices such as personal protection equipment (PPE) and ventilators, but also of: cleaning solutions in Mexico; alcohol and tobacco in South America; food and beverage in Asia; and electronics in Africa and across the Middle East.
  • In stowaways, BSI said that weakened European economies have forced migrants to continue traveling to find work, broadening their usual transport choice of trucking to also cause an uptick in rail incidents.
  • And in human trafficking and child labor, a growing loss of livelihoods has put pressure on families to consider other means for generating income, driving a rise of trafficking not only within the Americas but also in Asia and the Middle East.


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