LONDON: November 14, 2015. The British Standards Institution's (BSI) latest supply chain security risk index says the European migration crisis has cost the UK at least US$1 billion in shipping disruption.
BSI noted border closures, transportation stoppages and slowdowns at 10 European Union countries over a three-week period in September resulted in the most serious delays to transborder trade since the signing of the Schengen Agreement in 1995.
Delays and stoppages in Calais cost UK shippers an estimated US$1.2 million and Dutch shippers US$545,000 a day. One shipment of pharmaceuticals valued at US$3.9 million had to be destroyed following contamination by stowaways.
With the number of families and individuals displaced by war across Africa and the Middle East growing 50 percent year-on-year, BSI warned that costs to international shippers will continue to rise.
Jim Yarbrough, BSI's Global Intelligence Program manager for Supply Chain Solutions commented: "More so than any other economic bloc, Europe relies upon free trade. Every shipment delayed, contaminated or destroyed raises the cost to the end-consumer. For exports this hurts competitiveness, undermines productivity and risks jobs; for imports it raises the cost of living for each and every citizen."
BSI said the problem is now global with South Africa seeing a 30 percent increase in violent hijackings over the past year as thieves switched from stealing cigarettes to lower-value items such as clothing.
In China criminals are boarding trucks moving at 30-40 miles an hour to toss stolen goods to accomplices. Within Guangdong, thieves have targeted trucks on the G4 highway between Huado and Shaoguan to steal US$40,000 of leather clothing, $55,000 of medicines, and electronics.
Yarbrough added: "Highways such as the G45 north of Guangzhou are becoming notorious for 'kaitianchuang' thefts, where criminals leap aboard speeding lorries in scenes reminiscent of action movies. Even more violent tactics are seen in South Africa where the trend is moving toward lower value goods."
The BSI index acknowledged an improvement in Malaysia where police action against organized cargo theft gangs has led to a drop in the average and median value of thefts in the country in the past 12 months.
Much of the decrease is attributed to the capture or death of a number of members of the Mamak cargo theft gang, a group specializing in high-value electronics. A series of arrests and shootouts at the end of 2014 left many of the Mamak gang members either dead or imprisoned.
BSI added that remaining members of the gang "appear to have moved into other criminal enterprises such as personal vehicle theft and bank robberies".