Cargo theft was the main concern in the Americas, with Rio de Janeiro reporting the biggest rise © 123RF
Cargo theft was the main concern in the Americas, with Rio de Janeiro reporting the biggest rise © 123RF

Cargo theft plagues freight shippers

24 May 2017

Cargo theft in the Americas and terrorist activity in Europe were the main risk factors facing global supply chains in 2016, according to a major annual study.

BSI’s Global Supply Chain Intelligence Report said cargo theft was named as the main concern for the Americas, with Rio de Janeiro seeing the most dramatic increase in the phenomenon.

Rio reported 9,870 cargo theft incidents in 2016, up 36% on 2015. Given that Brazil is taking minimal steps to curb the rate of theft, the analysis suggests Brazil could see another year of increased cargo theft in 2017.

An increasingly high rate of cargo theft has also plagued freight shippers in Germany – with thieves often slashing into the tarpaulins of trailers to steal cargo.

The widespread use of soft-sided trailers in Europe has made this type of theft increasingly common, the report noted.

Meanwhile, terrorist attacks in Nice in July and Berlin in December, along with dozens of counterterrorism arrests across Europe in 2016, posed another kind of supply chain risk. “Those attacks in particular also underscored the threat that terrorists will exploit the supply chain to perpetrate attacks. In both cases, Tunisian men linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) used cargo trucks to ram into crowds of civilians,” said the report.

“The Berlin attacker even perpetrated an explicit disruption of the supply chain before the attack by hijacking a Polish tractor-trailer carrying a shipment of steel beams.”

It believes plots involving similar timing and methods will continue challenging European security in 2017.

The Americas saw an important improvement in corporate social responsibility, with Ecuador and Panama making sustained efforts to drastically eliminate underage labour.

Ecuador has seen the rate of children working in the country falling from 16% to 3% between 2007 and 2016, while Panama has cut the rate to 4% since 2012.

Overall, most countries in Latin America improved upon their corporate social responsibility record, though Peru failed to make much headway.

A key trend was risks starting small and becoming larger issues, and BSI cited the example of the European migrant crisis, which started as a single security risk before becoming a business continuity issue as countries imposed border controls. 

A failed coup in Turkey against the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) will lead to significant security and business continuity impacts in the short and long terms.

The Turkish government’s response to the coup attempt, which included widespread purges of government departments, as well as military and police, has exacerbated security and business continuity threats in the country.

In China labour strike threats still occurred in large numbers across the country, but the number of strikes dropped in 2016 for the first time in recent years, by 31%.

However, the threat of rising strikes in the logistics sector, including trucking, shipment processing and delivery, which rose more than fourfold from nine incidents in 2014 to 40 last year, is a growing concern.

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