Trade and Global Sourcing Summit: Learning About Your Options (Dispatch One)

We arrived early this morning at the University Club of Chicago to get ready for our first event: International Trade Policy Breaking Point (which Spend Matters readers can watch live starting in about half an hour (registration required). When I started Spend Matters nearly seven years ago, I always hoped that one day, we would be able to combine three of my interests together: politics, economics and procurement. Today promises to provide just such a forum, uniting global sourcing with trade policy.

Last night, the speaker's dinner saw some spirited discussion (combined with a few spirits as well, mind you), around sourcing, trade and policy. It's clear from talking to everyone taking part in today's event that on the policy hand, there is no easy answer to the US trade deficit. Nor, on the global sourcing hand, is there a secret sauce that companies are deploying when it comes to combating rising global sourcing costs and significant volatility -- from commodities to government policy to labor -- in emerging markets and low cost countries. But it's clear that risk is rising on all levels, and the cost to both countries and business (and shareholders) will be immense if we get our policies and strategies wrong.

It would seem that many folks I've spoken with in recent weeks are aligned in the need for companies to understand more at all levels about the implications of rising global costs and risks and to do something about it. Yet those who are taking the greatest actions at the moment appear to be doing it quietly. Spend Matters is aware of some very large names in the retail/CPG sector that are making significant investments to develop alternatives to China. And clearly, judging by the virtual registrations for the conference simulcast today, hundreds of other organizations are looking to develop their own options as well.

Over the course of today, I'll continue to blog live and share what we learn with the Spend Matters audience. Stay tuned. It should be a packed morning! If you can't join us for the simulcast, check back for frequent updates on these virtual pages.

- Jason Busch

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