Security Measures Must Embrace Whole Supply Chain

SECURITY should not focus solely on key points such as ports and ships but on the entire supply chain, says Singapore deputy prime minister S Jayakumar.

Announcing plans for the republic's own programme covering all links, he said: 'Given that the supply chain spans many different modes with different players involved at each mode, we believe that an efficient supply chain security programme has to be based on sharing out security responsibilities across all modes of the supply chain, an not to place the onus on only one or two modes.'

Prof Jayakumar, who is also Singapore's co-ordinating minister for national security, was speaking at the opening of the APEC symposium on total supply chain security.

He said that since September 11, 2001, many countries had acted to secure key installations such as ports and airports, but the security of whole supply chain needed to be enhanced.

'A number of international initiatives, such as the ISPS code and seve- ral cargo security initiatives, have emerged to strengthen parts of the supply chain,' he said.

These were good individual programmes but did not address supply security 'holistically'.

Echoing these comments Barry Desker, director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, said: 'It is also clear that the responsibility for supply chain security cannot be borne solely by certain modes such as ports, as they exercise little control over the rest of the chain.

'The movement of a container is part of a transaction that can involve up to 25 different parties from buyers, sellers, inland freighters and shipping lines, customs, cargo brokers, financiers and governments.'

Gordon Holder, principal of US consultants Booz Allen Hamilton, told reporters that he believed the most vulnerable point in the supply chain was when a container was first being stuffed with goods.

For its own part, Singapore announced it was launching its own national programme to address the security of the entire supply chain.

'Our national supply chain security programme spells out a set of security guidelines and goals which the players in each different nodes of the supply chain such as suppliers, manufacturers, warehouse operators, transport companies, and terminal operators, should seek to enhance the security of their operations,' said Prof Jayakumar.

The programme will be voluntary and the guidelines drawn up over the next few months.