Posted On February 13, 2017
No Matter What You Hear in the Media, the Sky is Not Falling on Your Supply ChainThe terms “free trade” and “globalization” get thrown around a lot in the media right now, and it can make it seem as though your supply chains are going to change, drastically, at any moment. It’s something we take seriously, since it’s our business. Our name was even inspired in part by a book about the changes caused by globalization and free trade called The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman. While some change is inevitable, and needed, here are a few things you should know about free trade, globalization, and supply chains—and the changes that could happen.
1. Global trade is really, really big.
Without a doubt, trade and globalization are a big part of the political dialogue in the United States and throughout the world. However, that doesn’t mean drastic change is going to happen tomorrow, or that you should immediately go into crisis mode and look to replace your international supplier partnerships. The amount of economic activity generated by worldwide trade is huge. According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), global trade amounted to $16.5 trillion in 2015. That’s a lot of money, and a lot of money means a lot of people have a vested interest in making cautious, wise, conservative decisions.
2. Ignore the noise, and adjust, adapt, and innovate.
Global trade at this scale, and its impact on your supply chain, is a really new development. Trade relations with China were only completely normalized when China joined the WTO in 2001. Modern global supply chains are a recent innovation, and policymakers are learning how to make them beneficial for everyone involved—including nations, countries, companies, and workers. It’s a process—and one that takes time.
However, because that process intersects with politics, the media will cover every moment like it’s life or death. It isn’t life or death, and each of those stakeholders mentioned above has incentives to make changes that are beneficial to everyone involved. Because trade relationships and the supply chains they create are so complex, it’s useful to think of altering them like a delicate surgery—only imagine trying to perform that surgery with multiple television networks and thousands of bloggers and pundits shouting, “Oh no, he’s going to cut the brain stem!” the minute the doctor reaches for a scalpel. That shouting is just noise.
In the long run, your supply chain could theoretically be impacted by changes to trade policy, but if that happens you’ll do what you always do: Adjust, adapt, and innovate.
3. Focus on your business and your supply chain.
More than anything, focus on the fundamentals. Making your supply chain as efficient as possible will only help, regardless of whether there are changes to trade policy. And remember, you can make your voice heard on anything that impacts your business—including trade relationships—but you can’t single-handedly change government policy.
What you can do is focus on your business. You can make your existing supply chain better by choosing a partner that puts visibility, efficiency, customer service, and excellence at the forefront of everything it does. That’s what we do at the Flat World Holdings family of companies. Each of our brands—Flat World Supply Chain, Flat World Hospitality, Ram International, Ram Custom Crating, and Prologue Technology—is there to tackle your toughest supply chain, logistics, and transportation management problems.
The dialogue about globalization and trade is important, but you need to focus on what you do best: building the products that keep our economy running.
In the meantime, we’ll make sure you have a high-performing supply chain that can adapt to any changes—and opportunities—that lie ahead.