Globalisation could be going into reverse, says keynote speaker at Logistics UK’s first Supply Chain Resilience Conference

Friday 01 April 2022

Logistics and global trade networks could be moving to a new economic order, according to Alan McKinnon, Professor of Logistics at Kuehne Logistics University.  As the keynote speaker at Logistics UK’s first annual Supply Chain Resilience Conference, held in London this week (30 March 2022), McKinnon suggested that the supply chain may need to reset to a more localised model to accommodate new market forces and challenges like global warming, decarbonisation and the impacts of global conflicts.

Chaired by Phil Roe (the incoming Logistics UK President) the Supply Chain Resilience Conference armed senior business leaders with the insight required to navigate the emerging logistics landscape, protect their operations against global and national supply chain pressures and maximise the opportunities of advancing technologies and assistance programmes. The conference was sponsored by Quincus, Port of Dover and WTW.

During his keynote speech, McKinnon commented: “The feeling is that the economic order that has been in place for the last 30 years, which has underpinned globalisation, is breaking down. We see that in the case of the current Ukrainian crisis.

“This will change the nature and scale of the threats to our global supply chain, because if we’re moving into a new world, we are going to have to completely reconfigure our supply chains. There will be a lot of strains and stresses in that process and that will be disruptive in the shorter term.”

According to McKinnon, globalisation, trade liberalisation and the internet have stoked up geopolitical tensions and impacted supply chains, effectively “weaponising connectivity”. He believes that countries threatening to stop the supply of critical materials, for example, can become a surrogate for military action.

Other sessions at the conference included a review of the preparedness of the industry as it strives to meet decarbonisation targets, resilience in the face of a skills shortage, and the opportunities and assistance provided by new technologies and financial instruments, delivered by a range of expert speakers. These included James Wroath, CEO of Wincanton, Justin Laney, Partner & General Manager at John Lewis Partnership, Corina Forman, HR Director at APC Group and Lindsay Bridges, SVP Human Resources UK & Ireland at DHL Supply Chain.

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Logistics UK is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With COVID-19, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. Logistics UK supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods.