Effectively protecting the complex trade and logistics chains

© Joachim Opelka/Fotolia

Trade and logistics chains are the arteries of our globally interconnected economy. Highly complex and time-critical transport and storage processes on land, water and in the air make it possible for all kinds of goods to reach their destination at the right time.

Whether it’s raw materials or intermediate products, most goods need to be transported in a steady flow to the respective industrial enterprises for further processing. Finished goods are then distributed to end customers in markets all over the world. All economic activity, and with it the competitiveness of German industry, depends on the smooth flow of these goods.

With increasing globalisation, the security challenges for trade and logistics chains have increased as well, both in their complexity and magnitude. Conflicts between countries and instability within countries caused through civil wars, terrorism and organised crime, are endangering the infrastructure and transport routes of the global exchange of goods. They are often a direct target of the attacks of regional warring parties and criminal groups.

Protecting the infrastructure and transport routes against these security threats is a core interest and must be a central objective of the security policy of export-oriented Germany and the EU.

Trade and logistics chains usually involve a variety of different transport types, means, routes and infrastructure. The respective security risks and potential threats vary significantly. Across-the-board security solutions for all logistics processes are therefore neither possible nor expedient and would only interrupt the smooth movement of goods and drive up costs unnecessarily.

Instead, security measures should be risk-based and tailored to the processes and security risks of the individual logistics chains. A balance must be found at all costs between the selected security processes and the free movement of goods.

In its own interests, German industry is highly motivated to protect its goods and facilities against unauthorised interference and disruption from third parties. German industry has assumed the primary responsibility for and invested many resources in such protection for many years. It can only do so much and depends on the cross-border support from politics, law enforcement authorities, tax authorities and security authorities.

The BDI is working to encourage the creation of an appropriate international framework for the protection of trade and logistics in a joint process between government and industry. Voluntary, risk-based and intelligently interconnected security measures that do not impede the highly time-sensitive logistics chains are in every case better than regulatory interventions that are binding on industry.