Disrupted supply chain, tariffs and sanctions cited as pain points

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by Emily Atkins

Global trade professionals say tariffs, sanctions and Asia-Pacific supply chain disruptions are hurting their business.

This is according to a new Thomson Reuters Institute report, the Global Trade Report 2022.

Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) of companies in the U.S. say retaliatory tariffs are affecting their business. Over eight in ten (83 percent) of respondents agreed (46 percent strongly) that Asia-Pacific supply-chain disruptions due to the pandemic and worldwide economic turmoil are having a major impact on their businesses.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of survey respondents agreed that the rapid evolution of the industry has made it more difficult to fill key roles. Over four in ten (45 percent) of companies worldwide say they are considering outsourcing to fill skills gaps to address this.

“Conversations on trade management issues – like supply chain stability, tariffs, sanctions, and customs compliance – have been thrust into the spotlight in recent years, and for good reason,” said Brian Peccarelli, chief operating officer, Thomson Reuters.

“Problem solving around global trade challenges isn’t – and shouldn’t be – reserved for logistics professionalsAny organization involved in import/export activities must understand that a healthy business is contingent upon strengthening its modern global trade management system. And that isn’t possible without a concerted focus on technological innovation in areas like data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain.

Over eight in ten (81 percent) of survey respondents said that the solution to rapidly changing customs and tax environments lay in adopting more capable global trade technologies.

However, despite this widespread consensus, companies appear to be lagging in upgrading these systems: close to half (49 percent) of businesses worldwide are either behind the curve or in the early stages of adoption. And almost one-fifth (19 percent) are still operating in highly siloed environments with disparate systems for each region and/or business unit, severely limiting their ability to share, compare, and analyze their business’s trade data.

“Streamlining and simplifying these processes and operations is also contingent upon having the right skillsets in place to manage these efforts. Like so many industries, obtaining the right talent and cultivating the appropriate expertise are challenges to solve for here. It’s up to business leaders to pinpoint global trade management as a priority, with the understanding it’s a company-wide imperative, and the bottom line of their business very likely depends on it,” Peccarelli said.