Asia Pacific Update: June 17
In today’s edition
- Already in upheaval, supply chains face greater scrutiny amid vaccine rollouts
- Healthcare and manufacturing logistics negotiating increasing cyberattacks
- Public and private sectors exploring finance, technology, research solutions
- Political shifts in Germany and US likely to impact logistics sectors in APAC
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Supply Chains & Logistics
One of the most significantly impacted arenas of the pandemic, supply chains remain profoundly disrupted throughout the Asia Pacific region. With rising anxieties over essential supplies like food and medicine unfolding across multiple markets, a number of businesses, sectors, and governments are exploring options to either repair existing supply lines or otherwise transform their approach to logistics.
Scrutiny over supply lines escalated with the ongoing rollouts of vaccines throughout the Asia Pacific region. Already taxed by the many transformations and tensions of the pandemic, medical and healthcare supply lines in various markets have struggled to maintain standards around vaccine delivery and security – with subsequent discussions leading to more widespread interrogation of supply chain vulnerabilities.
In Japan, a Tokyo-based thinktank has identified the government’s lack of adequate logistics legislation and insufficient vaccine manufacturing investment as some of the key obstacles behind the limited success of the country’s vaccine procurement and rollout. In India, multiple organisations have attributed vaccine manufacture delays to cyberattacks.
In fact, research from one of Asia’s largest telecommunications companies indicates cyberattacks against healthcare and manufacturing organisations increased by approximately 250% in 2020. A leading global tech firm reports hackers have already attempted to access storage facilities of key vaccine manufacturers.
The vulnerabilities highlighted by vaccine insecurity have led to greater questions over healthcare supply chain resilience in Asia. The recent COVID-19 outbreak in India, for example, has seen the government scrutinising pharmaceutical logistics brands over shortages of doxycycline, methyl prednisolone and paracetamol.
In Australia, a member of the government’s PPE Task Force has revealed the country ran out of bottles, labels, and pumps almost immediately in the initial COVID outbreak of 2020 – citing the country’s lack of domestic manufacturing resources. In response, the government enlisted the Australian Defence Force to ferry international supplies.
The scrutiny cultivated by healthcare logistics concerns has only been further exacerbated by recent struggles in other essential sectors. In Malaysia, farmers have warned the government that the country will face a food shortage if licensing and permission processes aren’t made more efficient – with crops rotting in transit.
Similarly, inadequate infrastructure for exporters and importers in The Philippines has increased food freighting costs by over 65% in a single quarter and has industry representatives concerned that, if unchecked, such a trend could lead to severe food shortages for the archipelago.
In response to the increased scrutiny and impacts of the sector’s disruption, brands and governments are exploring a range of different solutions – grounding approaches in everything from financing and technology innovations to public-private sector collaborations and research investment.
China’s Central Bank is prioritising supply chain financing, developing policies to make financing more accessible for companies in need of supply chain support as part of a larger strategy to overhaul general financing around logistics. In India, a fintech startup has similarly partnered with a finance multinational to streamline supply chain financing.
By contrast, Taiwan is collaborating with a technology multinational with a hope to identify new solutions to the supply chain complications currently limiting the country’s semiconductor export market. In Australia, the government has invested approximately US$82 million in auditing the country’s logistics and manufacturing resources.
Headquartered in Singapore, APEC’s latest publication suggests cooperation between member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum could help re-establish reliable supply lines within Southeast Asia. A number of startups throughout Asia Pacific, however, are advocating for solutions driven by blockchain and artificial intelligence.
Unfortunately, new complications continue to emerge. A survey of supply chain executives in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan and Thailand conducted earlier this year by a leading recruiter for the sector found that 4 out of 5 believed university graduates were not seeking employment in the logistics sector.
The recent release of a policy document from the government of the United States of America, meanwhile, has APAC manufacturers concerned that the government’s stated intentions to strengthen domestic manufacturing may further disrupt and destabilise Asia Pacific sectors already compromised by the logistics challenges of the pandemic.
Finally, new legislation ratified by Germany has raised questions around logistics management practices in the Asia Pacific region. Requiring companies to regularly investigate and report supply chains for human rights or environmental abuses, the legislation is being viewed as a harbinger of shifting global standards for the sector.
Already negotiating unprecedented upheaval, logistics in Asia Pacific may soon find itself contending with yet more disruption.
Media analysis of stories covering Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, Macau SAR, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam from 17 May to 17 June 2021
This briefing was prepared by the Weber Shandwick Insight and Intelligence team in Singapore. If you feel a specialised briefing and analysis bulletin could benefit your team, please get in touch: email@example.com.
About COVID-19 Recovery Report:
- The views and opinions reflected by these headlines do not necessarily represent those of Weber Shandwiick.
- The content of this news bulletin is a summary of publicly available news articles on events and developments related to COVID-19