US & Canada

US unveils strategy for a global supply chain crisis

Keppel container port in Singapore
Image caption Terror attacks and natural disasters can cause chaos to international supply chains

The US has unveiled a strategy at the Davos World Economic Forum to protect the global supply chain in the event of a terror attack or natural disaster.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the policy, signed by President Barack Obama.

The US has set aside six months to identify specific potential contingency plans.

The supply chain includes provision of food, medicines, fuel or any goods that underpin the American way of life.

The strategy would plan for worst case scenarios, enabling the government and industries to respond quickly to disasters that could disrupt access to vital commodities.

Ms Napolitano cited a 2010 incident in which al-Qaeda operatives in the Arab Peninsula plotted to send explosive devices into the US via cargo planes that were thought to be carrying printer toner cartridges.

"That really brought to the forefront of my own recognition that we need to have a sense of urgency about the importance of the global supply chain,'' Ms Napolitano said as she addressed a crowd at the World Economic Forum.

"When the unknown occurs, you have no time."

Events such as Hurricane Katrina, Iceland's volcanic eruption and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan can also affect international supply chains.

The new strategy directs federal agencies to address "those components of the worldwide network of transportation, postal and shipping pathways, assets, and infrastructures by which goods are moved until they reach an end consumer''.

It also encourages international co-operation and involvement from industry.

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