Afternoon Coffee: UK removing tariffs for supply chains; Apple & Google announce COVID-19 app partnership; Riskmethods targets long-term resiliency

The UK government announced that it will remove $37 billion worth of import tariffs used in manufacturing supply chains, Reuters reports. The move is meant to simplify import taxes and help Britain better negotiate trade with the U.S. and the EU post-Brexit. Tariffs will also be removed from products that support energy efficiency.

Additionally, the government announced a temporary removal of all tariffs on goods used to combat the coronavirus. However, tariffs will remain on imported products that compete with UK industries, such as the agricultural, automotive and fishing sectors. The tariff reductions will go into effect in January 2021.

Apple & Google work together for pandemic app

Apple and Google have jointly released smartphone app technology that will automatically notify anyone using it if they have been exposed to the coronavirus, The Associated Press reports. The technology utilizes Bluetooth wireless capabilities to detect other people who have downloaded the app and later test positive for the virus.

Similar apps have already been made by several governments, but these utilized GPS to track people’s locations and were not widely adopted or accurate. The new technology solves some of the issues faced with these earlier attempts by working across national and regional borders, improving battery drain and easing privacy concerns.

Riskmethods targets coronavirus, long-term resiliency

To address coronavirus disruptions, riskmethods has released a proprietary framework as part of its Supply Chain Continuity Program that helps organizations manage supply chain risk related to the crisis. The framework emphasizes four pillars for businesses to stabilize operations and focus on long-term recovery:

  • Secure supply
  • Evolve sourcing models
  • Enhance supply network management
  • Become a risk-aware enterprise

Bill DeMartino, riskmethods’ Managing Director of North America, said in a video that resilient businesses maintain end-to-end supply chain visibility and understand the criticality of supplier sites, such as which vendors are sole-source.

“Our customers armed with riskmethods’ artificial intelligence were able to achieve up to seven days of advanced insight on the shutdowns and logistics interruptions,” DeMartino said. “By taking advantage of this time, they were able to secure and move stock before their competition.”

DeMartino noted that as the closures slow, the next phase of disruption will come from financial distress. He said companies are preparing by increasing vigilance and analytics — as well as monitoring suppliers to understand trends.

Ford faces rocky reopening of assembly plants

Ford automotive has been forced to temporarily shut down two separate assembly factories in the U.S. just days after reopening from closures that began in March due to the coronavirus, CNN reports. Workers at plants in Chicago and Dearborn, Mich., tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, prompting the new closures.

While the Chicago plant reopened again on Wednesday morning, it was forced to temporarily suspend production by the afternoon due to additional supply chain disruptions. One of Ford's suppliers confirmed that an employee at their facility tested positive for the virus, prompting a halt in production at that location, the report said.

Hurricane season & COVID-19 complicate southeastern U.S. port recovery

Experts announced that there is an expected increase of tropical storm potential in the Atlantic Ocean and a decreased risk of potential in the Pacific Ocean during this year’s hurricane season, Supply Chain Dive reports. However, supply chain operations could be compounded with disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

Shipping volume has severely decreased in recent months due to the virus — ocean carriers have cancelled large numbers of sailings, passenger airlines carrying belly cargo have dropped and ports have changed operations to deal with the fall in traffic. As ports and airports begin gradually adjusting to an increase in shipping traffic during the summer months, an influx of hurricane activity could cause further harm to already damaged supply chains.

The ports most at risk on the Gulf and southern U.S. coasts include Houston; Jacksonville, Fla.; Mobile, Ala.; New Orleans and Savannah, Ga., the report said.

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