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Traceable supply chains ensure sustainable global trade

Published 14 September 2022

Interoperability and cohesion across supply chains are key to developing trust and resilience between stakeholders, especially in times of crisis. Watch this webinar recording on traceability in supply chains for a comprehensive overview of the challenges and benefits of incorporating technology for traceability across the existing supply chain frameworks.

Watch the webinar:

In the aftermath of pandemic induced supply chain disruptions, policymakers are calling for the adoption of traceability in supply chains to ease the impact of these shocks. With traceability, global trade could become more resilient and inclusive.

  • Kati Suominen, Founder and CEO, Nextrade Group, presented her paper addressing the key benefits of incorporating traceability in supply chains. Her research emphasized the importance of all players in the supply chain actively collaborating for greater harmonization across systems. However, she noted that concerns about privacy and cross-border data transfers must also be addressed. Trade agreements that incorporate provisions for intellectual property and consumer protection, Kati warned, are often difficult for businesses to navigate when countries lack common standards to adhere to. She stressed that the way forward includes identifying and addressing the weakest link in the supply chain, financing traceability solutions for SMEs, and incentivizing all players in a supply chain to work together.
  • Akhmad Bayhaqi, Senior Analyst, APEC Policy Support Unit, provided a comprehensive overview of APEC’s Global Data Standards (GDS) to promote interoperability and enhance supply chain efficiency. APEC members are taking active measures to improve digital connectivity. However, this must begin with domestic agreements, and although it is important to aim high, progress must be incremental. The objective of building a reliable data ecosystem, Akhmad emphasized, is to balance the importance of privacy, protection, and the free exchange of information. In doing so, members can benefit from greater efficiency, product integrity, visibility, and innovation.
  • Shameek Kundu, Head of Financial Services and Chief Strategy Officer, Truera Inc, stressed the importance of financial and data supply chains parallel to physical supply chains. Citing real world examples, Shameek emphasized the importance of designing how data is collected. Although privacy and interoperability are key, he argued that data sovereignty is ultimately the most important. Shameek observed that countries are increasingly protective of their data as data is the new frontier for sovereignty. Moving forward, he highlighted the need for countries to plan for a supply chain that embraces all factors such as data sovereignty, data quality, and data accessibility.

The session, moderated by Chuin Wei Yap, Program Director, International Trade Research Program, Hinrich Foundation, concluded with a robust Q&A with the panel of experts. The panel focused on the trade-offs between privacy and traceability, the impact of cross-border data transfer, and the efficacy of agreements such as RCEP with non-binding clauses.

The discussion is based on a recent article by Kati Suominen - Eyes on the prize: The race to hone visibility on supply chains.

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