Stowaway attempts threaten the integrity of transported goods while increase border security affects their timely movement BSI said ©Press Association Images
Stowaway attempts threaten the integrity of transported goods while increase border security affects their timely movement BSI said ©Press Association Images

Stowaways, strikes and cargo theft threaten supply chains

13 September 2016

Refugees trying to cross European borders on cargo lorries and trains are among the top supply chain threats, a report has said. 

BSI Supply Chain Service and Solution, an intelligence and auditing company, has been monitoring risks to supply chain security and continuity globally.

Their latest quarterly Security and Business Continuity Risk Index highlights threats in Europe, Asia and South America. 

In Europe “stowaway attempts pose a significant security risk by threatening the integrity of transported goods”, the report said.

Although an agreement in March between EU and Turkey has reduce the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, it has also “contributed to the risk of stowaway attempts into freight shipments departing Turkey”, the report said.

BSI said most refugees arrested are found hiding in trucks, but it has seen an uptick in the number of stowaway attempts on rail cargo.

The concentration of refugees at camps in Greece has also increased the stowaway risk for shipments travelling from Greece into Bulgaria and Macedonia. 

Increased security controls at European borders are also threatening the “timely movement” of shipments and increasing shipping costs, the report said. The serious threat of terrorism after the spate of attacks this year, on top of the migrant crisis, has caused uncertainty over how long disruptive security measures will stay in place.

“While BSI recorded fewer delays as shippers become more accustomed to existing controls, EU officials retain the ability to authorise enhanced security measures at new locations,” the report said.

It said the security measures had the most significant impact on truck shipments, but were also affecting the movement of rail and air freight.

Unrelated to the refugee crisis, some areas of Germany saw an increase in thefts from cargo lorries, both “slash-and-grab” incidents and thefts of full loads. BSI said this year German police have already disrupted two organised crime groups “that each perpetrated scores of cargo theft incidents involving trucks”.

The BSI report also flagged high rates of cargo crime in Rio de Janeiro, with record numbers of theft recorded in 2015. The report said theft rates there are expected to continue rising this year. 

“Companies with operations in the city have been forced to relocate or adopt extra security measures, with costs typically being passed to customers,” it said.

Ongoing political instability in neighbouring Venezuela also threatens supply chain security and continuity. “BSI has observed scarcities of food and other necessities in the country contributing to a significant spike in rioting, looting, and cargo truck hijackings,” the report said.

In Asia, the number of protests causing disruptions in factories was increasing, the report said.

BSI saw “a significant increase” in strikes over factory closures and relocations in China. The number of strikes related to factory relocations this year has already exceeded the 2015 total, the report said. “These trends are likely to continue,” it added.

Cambodia and Bangladesh were also singled out for an increasing number of wage related strikes, as business operational costs have increased and factory margins have shrunk.

“Last month authorities identified nearly 360 factories [in Bangladesh] considered vulnerable to labour unrest,” the report said.

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