Insights by Victor Restis
A year into the COVID-19 experience has spotlighted the need to ensure strength and sustainability in our global supply chain. Victor Restis, a Greek shipping executive and president of Enterprises Shipping & Trade, provides useful insights into what took place over the past year within the shipping and trade industry.
In all, global supply chains held up fine during the early days of the pandemic. Most issues were in manufacturing and hoarding, not the transport of goods. This held strong. What is getting noticed now is the fact that a tiny group of countries manufacture a majority of the essential products we use daily, and governments around the world are realizing this is dangerously unbalanced.
It is noted in the article that Restis believes world leaders are likely re-thinking global trade strategies, even as they continue to deal with the spread of the virus. Bringing back more manufacturing jobs within country borders is a much-needed step forward. For critical, life-saving items (including drug manufacturing), each country should have an internal system of manufacturing to ensure the availability of these items without reliance on the global trade system and its politics.
Of course, there are unique exports and raw materials from each country that are beneficial to use as trade with other countries, and this should be maintained. The article, for example, points out ventilators and N95 masks that were in very short supply in the early days of the pandemic. Thankfully, US companies shifted production focus away from its core commerical products and helped manufacture much needed medical supplies. General Motors and Ford were among the first to jump in and help the American population. These companies’ output was so great, the United States was able to ship supplies to other countries that were in dire need. This was one example of humanity pulling together out of care and kindness for one another.
The other benefit of pulling more manufacturing jobs in-house is to boost a country’s economy. Manufacturing creates jobs! Thousands of them in fact, and it supports local economies as well. Think about all the ancillary jobs and collateral economies that would benefit if large scale manufacturing were introduced into some of the world’s most struggling economies. The issue isn’t staffing, and many manufacturing jobs require training that can be obtained while on the job.