Government launches Critical Imports and Supply Chain Strategy to boost UK resilience

Wed 17 Jan 2024
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Globe with supply chain points

The UK government has today (17 January) launched a new strategy to “boost supply chain resilience for critical goods” entering the country.

The ‘Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy’ comes amid a rise in disruptions to global supply chains following the pandemic, wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, and the effects of climate change. In recent weeks, dual crises in the Red Sea and Panama Canal have also led many shippers to re-route goods movements, adding significant time and costs to shipments.

The new strategy will allow the UK and its businesses to boost “their ability to manage supply chain shocks”, the government said in a statement today.

“Imported goods are vital to our economy. They ensure lower prices, greater choice, and help businesses to be more productive and also enable innovation, drive growth, and are essential to the UK’s world-leading industries, from aerospace to life sciences.”

Nusrat Ghani, minister for industry and economic security, is launching the strategy at an event hosted at Heathrow Airport today.

‘Good news for British businesses’

Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), said the strategy was “good news for British businesses and the wider economy”. Forgione is among those in British business to have pushed for a revamped imports strategy in recent months.

“It’s something we have been calling for, with many of our members raising issues around the supply of key components and ingredients.

“These have been driven by a range of factors including protectionist policies in other markets, shipping and logistics problems, sanctions and security concerns. So it’s positive to see action being taken to remedy this.”

Ghani said the strategy seeks to reduce unpredictability in key supply chains.

“With this strategy we’re equipping business, so they no longer have to rely on unpredictable partners for supplies of the goods that keep our country going. By making supply chains stronger we’re helping make the UK a truly safe and reliable place to do business.”

Food, medicines and manufacturing

The government says that imports of “critical goods for the NHS and UK manufacturing” will be protected by the new strategy.

Forgione notes that food imports also need to be protected, as well as high-tech and environmental industries.

“Nearly 50% of our food is imported, while the high tech and green industries depend on fiercely sought-after critical minerals and other components from overseas.

“Having a dedicated import strategy, bringing business into the process of advising and informing policy, [combined with the ongoing digitalisation of trade,] will help our manufacturers and our supply chains boost resilience at a time of growing global instability.”

The government also says that the strategy will include “cutting-edge research” that “will be used to map the impacts of shocks on supply chains, such as those caused by the Covid pandemic and war in Ukraine and understand how the UK can secure the goods we need in future.”

Industry input

The government reports that over 100 leading UK firms contributed to the strategy, including the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Green Lithium.

It also said that it will seek to connect UK businesses with suppliers in international markets through its overseas network of support in over 100 countries.