UK launching online portal to address escalating supply chain disruption

The government has announced a new strategy to tackle supply chain disruption amidst attacks by the Houthis on ships in the Red Sea and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

The strategy includes the launch of a new online portal designed to allow businesses to quickly report red tape or disruption impacting their imports.

The UK government's trade department promised that it would work to remove these barriers “wherever possible”.

The move comes as the Houthis, an Iran-backed Islamist rebel group, threaten global trade by attacking ships in one of the world's most critical waterways.

Over 100 UK companies, including pharmaceutical and manufacturing firms like The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Green Lithium, are currently contributing to the strategy.

The government says that the new strategy - primarily designed to protect critical goods like medicines, minerals, and semiconductors - builds on improvement seen across the industry to cope with supply chain shocks after companies dealt with disruption driven by the Covid pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and environmental disasters.

It added that the new strategy will allow it to share vital information and guidance with businesses on the risks to key supply chains and practical steps they can carry out to protect themselves from disruption, including regular updates on emerging supply chain risks like new export bans on critical everyday goods imposed by other countries.

The strategy aims to also use "cutting edge research" to better understand the impact of disruption on supply chains, exploring how companies can secure critical goods in future. This includes looking at how climate change is set to affect key supply chains.

Additionally, the strategy will see the UK pursue further trade deals to help Britain's importers access the critical goods they need.

The government also revealed that it would establish a new Critical Imports Council aimed at enabling businesses and government to work together to identify risks to critical imports and "develop a plan of action".

"There are many unpredictable events that can threaten our access to vital goods, from the pandemic, Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, and the ongoing attacks in the Red Sea," said Nusrat Ghani, minister for industry and economic security. "That’s why we’re taking action to ensure crucial imports like medicines can reach consumers, no matter what happens around the world.

"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."

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