IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures

The IMF, a grouping made up of 190 member states, promotes international financial stability and monetary cooperation. It also acts as a lender of last resort for countries in financial crisis.

In the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook report released on Tuesday, the group’s economists say the most important policy priority is to vaccinate sufficient numbers of people in every country to prevent dangerous mutations of the virus. He stressed the importance of meeting major economies’ pledges to provide vaccines and financial support for international vaccination efforts before new versions derail. “Policy choices have become more difficult … with limited scope,” IMF economists said in the report.

The IMF in its July report cut its global growth forecast for 2021 from 6% to 5.9%, a result of a reduction in its projection for advanced economies from 5.6% to 5.2%. The shortage mostly reflects problems with the global supply chain that causes a mismatch between supply and demand.

For emerging markets and developing economies, the outlook improved. Growth in these economies is pegged at 6.4% for 2021, higher than the 6.3% estimate in July. The strong performance of some commodity-exporting countries accelerated amid rising energy prices.

The group maintained its view that the global growth rate would be 4.9% in 2022.

In key economics, the growth outlook for the US was lowered by 0.1 percentage point to 6% this year, while the forecast for China was also cut by 0.1 percentage point to 8%. Several other major economies saw their outlook cut, including Germany, whose economy is now projected to grow 3.1% this year, down 0.5 percent from its July forecast. Japan’s outlook was down 0.4 per cent to 2.4%.

While the IMF believes that inflation will return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022, it also warns that the negative effects of inflation could be exacerbated if the pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions become more damaging and prolonged. become permanent over time. This may result in earlier tightening of monetary policy by central banks, leading to recovery back.

The IMF says that supply constraints, combined with stimulus-based consumer appetite for goods, have caused a sharp rise in consumer prices in the US, Germany and many other countries.

Food-price hikes have placed a particularly severe burden on households in poor countries. The IMF’s Food and Beverage Price Index rose 11.1% between February and August, with meat and coffee prices rising 30% and 29%, respectively.

The IMF now expects consumer-price inflation in advanced economies to reach 2.8% in 2021 and 2.3% in 2022, up from 2.4% and 2.1%, respectively, in its July report. Inflationary pressures are even greater in emerging and developing economies, with consumer prices rising 5.5% this year and 4.9% the following year.

Gita Gopinath, economic advisor and research director at the IMF, wrote, “While monetary policy can generally see through a temporary increase in inflation, central banks should be prepared to act swiftly if the risks to rising inflation expectations are high. become more important in this unchanged recovery.” Report.

While rising commodity prices have fueled some emerging and developing economies, many of the world’s poorest countries have been left behind, as they struggle to gain access to the vaccines needed to open their economies. More than 95% of people in low-income countries have not been vaccinated, in contrast to immunization rates of about 60% in wealthy countries.

IMF economists urged major economies to provide adequate liquidity and debt relief for poor countries with limited policy resources. “The alarming divergence in economic prospects remains a major concern across the country,” said Ms. Gopinath.

By: Yuka Hayashi

Yuka Hayashi covers trade and international economy from The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. Previously, she wrote about financial regulation and elder protection. Before her move to Washington in 2015, she was a Journal correspondent in Japan covering regional security, economy and culture. She has also worked for Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters in New York and Tokyo. Follow her on Twitter @tokyowoods

Source: IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply-Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures – WSJ

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Census Figures Show Americans’ Incomes Fell in 2020

Americans last year saw their first significant decline in household income in nearly a decade, government data showed, with economic pain from the Covid-19 pandemic prompting government aid that helped keep millions from falling into poverty.

An annual assessment of the nation’s financial well-being, released Tuesday by the Census Bureau, offered insight into how households fared during the pandemic’s first year. It arrives as Washington debates how much more to spend to bolster the economy during the worst public-health crisis in a century.

Median household income was about $67,500 in 2020, down 2.9% from the prior year, when it hit an inflation-adjusted historical high. It came as the U.S. last year saw millions lose their jobs and national unemployment soar from a 50-year low to a high of 14.8%.

The last time median household income fell significantly was 2011, in the aftermath of the 2007-09 recession.

The Census Bureau’s top-line income figure includes unemployment benefits but doesn’t account for income and payroll taxes nor stimulus checks or other noncash benefits like federal food programs. If those had been counted, the median household income would have risen 4% to $62,773.

As was the case with the income measure, the report offered conflicting takes on poverty trends because of differing definitions and approaches to the topic.

The bureau said the traditional poverty rate in 2020 was 11.4%, an increase of 1 percentage point from 2019 and the first increase after five consecutive years of declines. That translated to 37.2 million people in poverty, an increase of 3.3 million from 2019. For a four-person household, the threshold for meeting the definition of poverty was about $26,000 in 2020.

The official poverty measure doesn’t reflect how much a household pays in taxes, and it also omits noncash government aid like tax credits, housing subsidies and free school lunches. A broader poverty measure that accounts for such expenses and income actually fell last year to 9.1%, down 2.6 percentage points from 2019.

The decrease, coinciding with an increase in the official poverty rate, highlighted the role of the government safety net, which was expanded during the pandemic. The two poverty yardsticks have tracked closely for a decade, but last year was the first time that the supplemental measure dropped below the official measure.

Without the first two rounds of stimulus checks issued last year, the broader poverty measure would have risen by almost a percentage point instead of dropping, the bureau said.

Specifically, stimulus checks moved 11.7 million people above the poverty threshold if their effect was calculated alone. In the same manner, expanded unemployment programs did so for 5.5 million people. Refundable tax credits, such as the earned-income tax credit, did so for 5.3 million people. The Social Security program, however, remained the largest safety net program, lifting 26.5 million people above the poverty line.

“The increase in poverty would have been even larger if it were not for the ample fiscal support provided over the past year,” said Shannon Seery, an economist at Wells Fargo & Co.

After continued direct federal payments made to households in 2021 and enhanced unemployment benefits that expired in early September, Ms. Seery said, an improving unemployment picture should help households.

“With a robust demand for labor, exhibited by the record 10.9 million job openings in July, and average hourly earnings rising across industries, the current environment should help lure workers back to the job site,” she said.

The bureau also said Tuesday the proportion of Americans without health insurance for all of 2020 was 8.6%, essentially unchanged from 2018. About 28 million Americans lacked health insurance, according to the survey.

Median earnings in 2020 of those who worked full time, year-round increased 6.9% from 2019. The 2020 female-to-male earnings ratio was 83%, essentially unchanged from the previous year.

The distribution of incomes changed little. The top fifth of households—with incomes above $141,100—collected 52.2% of household income, while the top 5% alone—with incomes above $273,700—collected 23%. The bureau reported that the income shares collected by the lowest groups dropped slightly. The lowest fifth of households—making less than $27,000—collected 3%, down from 3.1% in 2019. The second fifth—with incomes from $27,000 to $52,000—collected 8.1%, down from 8.3% in 2019.

In 2020, median household incomes decreased 3.2% in the Midwest and 2.3% in the South and West, the bureau said. The change in the Northeast between 2019 and 2020 wasn’t statistically significant.

Median incomes were highest in the Northeast ($75,211) and the West ($74,951), followed by the Midwest ($66,968) and the South ($61,243). Households with the lowest levels of educational attainment logged the greatest declines in their incomes. For those headed by someone without a high school diploma, incomes dropped 5.7%, while those headed by someone with some college education or a bachelor’s degree or higher recorded a 2.8% decline.

The road ahead for the U.S. economy looks more uncertain than earlier in 2021. In recent weeks, growing evidence has built of lost momentum as Covid-19 cases rose again. Supply-chain challenges and a lack of workers for lower-paying jobs also are weighing on economic growth.

Rocky Smith Jr., a 41-year-old union worker who cuts metal parts down to size after they exit a furnace, said things are looking up for his family of four in Muskegon, Mich. After being laid off in April 2020, he said, he wasn’t hired back until July 2021.

Mr. Smith said he is now making more than $20 an hour at his full-time job. His wife, he said, resumed working during his unemployment and the family skipped meals out and other luxuries.

“We rolled with the punches,” said Mr. Smith, a former boxer. “Life hit us, but we made it work.”

By: John McCormick and Paul Overberg

Source: Census Figures Show Americans’ Incomes Fell in 2020 – WSJ

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Apple Floats Above China Technology Crackdown For Now

The Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has rattled investors in Chinese technology companies by announcing regulatory measures meant to curb the country’s fast-growing economy while reasserting control over some of its biggest companies. But the big U.S. technology company most exposed to China — Apple Inc. — is likely insulated from the turmoil for the time being.

“The crackdown out of Beijing has caught investors by surprise given the scale and scope,” said Dan Ives, an Apple analyst at Wedbush Securities. “It’s a major overhang on Chinese tech names, but Apple has been able to navigate the China political climate unlike any other U.S technology company in the last thirty years. Apple is able to be more Teflon-like in terms of regulatory focus.”

On Tuesday — when Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings had its worst day in a decade and Chinese tech companies ranging from food delivery to online tutoring sectors continued a multi-day free fall — Apple underscored its dominance by releasing earnings that topped Wall Street expectations for both sales and profit and reported quarterly revenue that topped $100 billion for the first time. That included strong growth in Apple’s Greater China region, in which it reported $14.8 billion in sales, up 58% from the same quarter a year ago.

Under the premise of tackling the technology industry’s anti-competitive practices and cybersecurity concerns to curbing rising costs of tutoring companies, the Chinese government has sent a clear message: It is not afraid to wipe out massive economic gains in order to pursue its policies. “China goes back and forth on cracking down on their companies,” said Mark Zgutowicz, an analyst at Rosenblatt Securities.

“If you think about Tencent, Alibaba, JD.com — China does not want any of their companies to get too big for them to control. And whenever these companies get too big for their britches, China will come down and say, ‘You know what, we’re going to regulate this or bring in another competitor.’”

Apple’s manufacturing supply chain is based in China and Taiwan, where nearly every iPhone, iPad and Mac computer is made. Over the years, China has proven itself to be both an important customer and partner to Apple.

According to Zgutowicz, Apple’s presence in China is actually a boon to the government’s agenda. Chinese technology companies like Huawei Technologies, Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology, Vivo Communication Technology Company and Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Corp. have more or the same amount of mobile phone market share in China as Apple, according to data from market research firm Counterpoint.

This means that Apple is simply another player that keeps its domestic companies from getting too big. “Ironically, Apple keeps the other companies in check,” Żgutowicz said. “It keeps things level for the other Chinese manufacturers.”

Apple may not be facing the brunt of the Chinese crackdown, but it has not been totally immune to its regulatory bodies in recent years. In 2017, after China passed a cybersecurity law that required technology companies operating in China to store Chinese users’ data in the country, Apple agreed to build two data centers in the country. Cook assured the public that it would keep that data safe. But a recent New York Times investigation asserted that the company had more or less given up control of the computers inside the data center to the Chinese state.

In August 2020, Apple took down 47,000 applications from its App Store at the request of the Chinese government for not obtaining the appropriate gaming licenses, according to Rich Bishop, CEO of AppInChina, a Beijing-based firm that is a leading publisher of international apps in China and helps developers localize their apps and be compliant with local laws.

This request came after a decade of China turning a blind eye on how Apple operates its App Store in the country. “It is very unclear why the Chinese government has allowed Apple to operate until now without compliance with Chinese law,” said Bishop. “I would imagine it is because Apple contributes a lot to the Chinese economy in terms of manufacturing and sales — or maybe they have solid government relationships.”

The company’s heavy reliance on the region was an effort led in large part by Tim Cook, who worked at Apple for thirteen years under Steve Jobs before becoming its CEO in 2011. In the early 2000s, the Chinese government and its business leaders welcomed Apple, spending billions to build factories, power plants and employee housing. In one instance in 2004, when Apple was looking to expand its footprint in the country, a manufacturing partner in China physically moved a mountain in order to make space for an iPod-building factory.

Chief executives at some of Apple’s largest supply chain partners in China and Taiwan have become billionaires themselves. Zhou Qunfei, who chairs Lens Technology, a smartphone screen supplier that has long been one of Apple’s earliest suppliers for the iPhone, is one of the greater China region’s richest women, worth a cool $12.7 billion. Terry Gou, who founded Foxconn and assembles iPhones for Apple, is the richest person in Taiwan with a net worth of $6.7 billion.

“Part of this tight-wire balancing act for Apple and Cook has been to make sure they are successful in China without any blowback from the ongoing U.S.-China Cold Tech War,” said Ives of Wedbush. “And the reality is that in a peak iPhone cycle, Apple through its supply chain is one of the biggest importers in the whole country of China, potentially employing more than a million employees across the broader supply chain in the country.”

Apple and the greater China region have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, but the company has made concessions in order to placate an increasingly controlling government. For now, it works — until the Chinese government starts to see Apple as a threat. “China welcomes the competition as long as Apple doesn’t get too big,” said Zgutowicz. “But whenever a company starts to get too big, they will see it from miles away. They do not want companies to get too big and create their own government with their users.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I am a staff writer at Forbes. Follow me on Twitter or send me an email at aau-yeung@forbes.com.

Source: Apple Floats Above China Technology Crackdown — For Now

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How ‘Chaos’ In The Shipping Industry Is Choking The Economy

Whidbey Island is a lovely place about 30 miles north of Seattle on the Puget Sound. Most days the tranquil sounds of rolling waves and chirping birds provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. But these days, all is not so serene. Residents are complaining about the ruckus created by humongous container ships anchored off their shore.

“We’ve never seen them this close before,” a Whidbey Islander told a local news station. “We’re hearing the throbbing noise at night. … It’s a nuisance.” The noise has been so loud that residents have been complaining to the county sheriff’s office about it.

Whidbey Islanders are getting a front row seat to the growing U.S. trade deficit, which is hitting record highs. It’s fueled by a surge in demand for imports, mostly from East Asia. There’s so much cargo being shipped to the U.S. from Asia right now that the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are chock-full of container ships.

“We are seeing a historic surge of cargo volume coming into our ports,” says Tom Bellerud, the chief operations officer of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which manages all cargo processing at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. “The terminals are having a difficult time keeping up with processing all the cargo off these vessels fast enough.”

On both land and at sea, the entire supply chain is struggling to keep up. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s become such a clusterfest that the U.S. Coast Guard has been redirecting boats to anchor off the coast of Whidbey Island and other places they typically don’t park. Ship crews are having to wait days, even weeks, for the chance to dock at the ports and offload their precious goods.

It’s the same story up and down the West Coast. In San Francisco Bay, the traffic jam of container ships has gotten so bad that the U.S. Coast Guard has been asking ships not to enter the bay at all. Robert Blomerth, director of the USCG’s San Francisco Vessel Traffic Service, said last week that there were 16 container ships waiting in the open ocean outside the Golden Gate to get in and unload their cargo. He says it’s “completely abnormal.”

When we spoke to Gene Seroka, the head of the Port of Los Angeles, he said his port had 19 ships waiting to dock and they’re now waiting, on average, about five days to get in. In normal times, they don’t have to wait at all.

Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Maritime, has spent 20 years studying the industry and he says what’s going on is unprecedented. “The container shipping industry is in a state of chaos that I don’t think it has ever been since it was invented,” he says.

The maiden voyage of the first container ship set sail from Newark, N.J., back in 1956. It may be hard to fathom just how big a deal this innovation was. It was just a big ship that carried containers, literally metal boxes. But these metal boxes enabled ships to carry dramatically more cargo, and, by standardizing shipping practices and using new machines to handle the boxes, shippers were able to slash costs and the time it takes to load, unload and transport that cargo.

Economists credit these metal boxes with increasing the efficiency of shipping so much that it stitched the modern global economy together more than anything else — more than all free-trade agreements put together.

Now economists are concerned that the plumbing provided by these miracle boxes and the vessels that transport them is clogged. It’s making it more difficult for stores to restock their shelves, manufacturers, carmakers and builders to get the parts they need, and farmers to export their products. It’s an important reason, analysts say, that we’re seeing consumer prices surge.

How did shipping get topsy-turvy?

In the early days of the pandemic, global trade hit an iceberg and sank into the abyss. The decline of maritime shipping was so dramatic that American scientists saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study what happened to whales in the absence of a constant deluge of vessels. The noise from the ships apparently stresses them out — kind of like they’re currently stressing out the residents of Whidbey Island.

Greater tranquility for whales in the first half of 2020 was the result of shipping companies canceling their trips and docking their ships. Then the economy rebounded, and American consumers unleashed a tidal wave of demand that swept through the shipping industry when they started shifting their spending patterns. Unable to spend money on going out, many started spending their money (and their stimulus checks) on manufactured goods — stuff that largely comes from China on container ships.

At first, it wasn’t the ships that were the problem; it was the containers. When the buying spree began, Chinese exporters struggled to get their hands on enough empty boxes, many of which were still stranded in the U.S. because of all the canceled trips at the beginning of the pandemic. More importantly, processing containers here has been taking longer because of all the disruptions and inefficiencies brought about by the pandemic. Containers have been piling up at dockyards, and trains and trucks have struggled to get them out fast enough.

“The pandemic has exacerbated longstanding problems with the nation’s supply chain, not just at the ports but in the warehouses, distribution centers, railroads, and other places that need to run smoothly in order for Longshore workers to move cargo off of the ships,” says Cameron Williams.

He’s an official at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dock workers, primarily on the West Coast. Dock workers have been working through the pandemic to handle the increased cargo volume, he says, and at least 17 ILWU workers lost their lives to COVID-19. “We continue to work hard and break records month after month to clear the cargo as quickly as the supply chain allows,” Williams says.

It’s been all hands on deck to supply ravenous consumers and businesses with the stuff they want. The resulting traffic jams at West Coast ports means it takes longer to unload stuff, which then extends the time it takes for ships to get back across the Pacific to reload.

That congestion was already creating massive delays on both ends of the shipping supply chain, tying up large numbers of containers and ships and leading to growing backlogs and shortages. Then, in March 2021, the Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, got stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt. While the blockage didn’t directly affect the Asia-West Coast shipping corridor, it added to the global shortage of ships and containers by stranding even more of them out at sea.

As if all this weren’t enough, last month there was a COVID-19 outbreak at the Yantian International Container Terminal in China, which is normally one of the busiest ports in the world. The Chinese government implemented stringent measures to control the outbreak, and as a result, more than 40 container ships had to anchor and wait. “In terms of the amount of cargo, what’s going on in South China right now is an even larger disturbance than the Suez canal incident,” Jensen says.

The effects on the American economy

With so much shipping capacity bogged down, importers and exporters have been competing for scarce containers and vessels and bidding up the price of shipping. The cost of shipping a container from China/East Asia to the West Coast has tripled since 2019, according to the Freightos Baltic Index. Many big importers pay for shipping through annual contracts, which means they’ve been somewhat insulated from surging prices, but they are starting to feel the pain as they renegotiate contracts.

Rising shipping costs and delays are starving the economy of the stuff it needs and contributing to shortages and inflation. It’s not just consumers and retailers that are affected: American exporters are complaining that shipping companies are so desperate to get containers back to China quickly that they’re making the return trip across the Pacific without waiting to fill up containers with American-made products. That’s bad news for those exporters — and for America’s ballooning trade deficit.

As for when it’s going to get better, none of the people we spoke to believes it’ll be anytime soon. And it’s not even considered peak season for the shipping industry yet. That typically begins in August, when American stores start building their inventories for the back-to-school and holiday seasons. The residents of Whidbey Island may have to continue dealing with the nuisance of gigantic, noisy ships cluttering up the horizon for the foreseeable future.

By:

Source: How ‘Chaos’ In The Shipping Industry Is Choking The Economy : Planet Money : NPR

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References:

Shipbuilding NewsCruise Ship News, Ports News ,Salvage News ,Training News ,Government News, Environment News,Corporate News, Maritime Executive , Volga Targets Market, Nuclear-Powered Cargo Ship, China’s Exports, American Vulkan’s Service Team, JFE Steel, OMSA, OceanManager Inc.

AstraZeneca Battles Supply Chain Issues, Denies Claims Its Covid-19 Vaccine Is Largely Ineffective In Seniors

Pharma giant AstraZeneca could face strict new export rules from the European Union that could restrict supply of its Covid-19 vaccine outside the bloc, as officials pressure the company to explain production shortfalls, while the company denies claims in German media that its vaccine is mostly ineffective in seniors.

Key Facts

Citing government sources, two German papers reported Monday that the efficacy of the vaccine AstraZeneca developed with the University of Oxford was “less than 10%” and 8% in those over 65.  

AstraZeneca said the claims are “completely incorrect” and go against published data from its clinical trials which showed a significant response in over-65s..

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Oxford University , which developed the vaccine with AstraZeneca, told the Financial Times there is “no basis for the claims of very low efficacy.”

The German health ministry also rejected the reports Tuesday, suggesting that the newspapers had got confused with the statistics. 

The confusion comes as tensions between AstraZeneca and the European Union soar to new levels, with the bloc furious at the company’s apparent inability or refusal to explain why it cannot honor its agreements and threatening to introduce new export rules for vaccines leaving the Union. 

Forbes has contacted  AstraZeneca to find out whether its supply chain issues and export rules could threaten vaccine supply to other parts of the world.

Key Background

On Friday, AstraZeneca informed Brussels that production issues meant it would be unable to honor its contractual commitments to provide doses to the EU. The vaccine is expected to be approved shortly and the delays mark another setback for the bloc’s vaccination efforts, which are already being hampered by a temporary reduction in deliveries from Pfizer while it makes changes to its production site.  

Chief Critic 

The EU stopped short of directly accusing AstraZeneca of reneging on its contracts in order to sell doses elsewhere, but said: “The European Union wants to know exactly which doses have been produced by AstraZeneca and where exactly so far and if or to whom they have been delivered,” Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said in a statement.

Later, Kyriakides tweeted that discussions with the pharma giant “resulted in dissatisfaction” and there was a “lack of clarity and insufficient explanations.

What To Watch For

The EU may follow through on its threat to implement new vaccine export rules. This would require companies to seek permission before exporting internationally.   

Big Number 

31 million. This is how many doses the bloc is now expecting before the end of March, an EU official told Reuters. That amounts to a 60% cut.

Further Reading

Enraged at AstraZeneca over shortfall, EU calls for vaccine export controls (Politico)

AstraZeneca: German reports on low efficacy on over-65s ‘completely incorrect’ (DW)

Full coverage and live updates on the CoronavirusFollow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip

Robert Hart

Robert Hart

I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and as a freelance journalist and policy analyst covering science, tech and health. I have a master’s degree in Biological Natural Sciences and a master’s degree in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. Follow me on Twitter @theroberthart or email me at rhart@forbes.com

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CNBC Television

AstraZeneca has received more than $1 billion from the U.S. Health Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop a coronavirus vaccine from the University of Oxford. Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, joins “Squawk Box” and CNBC’s Meg Tirrell to discuss the company’s efforts to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2JdMwO7​ » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision​ » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC​ » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic​ Turn to CNBC TV for the latest stock market news and analysis. From market futures to live price updates CNBC is the leader in business news worldwide. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/​ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC​ Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC​ Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC​ Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC

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The Unrealized Benefits of Supply Chain Serialization

Through the use of sophisticated enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, companies can view the aggregate shipping locations of each distributor, wholesaler, and in some cases large resellers. Most of the time, though, the tracking of products ends there.

By serializing products at the primary package, case and pallet levels, companies can capitalize on enormous opportunities to boost supply and demand management, reduce product loss, prevent counterfeiting, and enhance brand protection. 

Enabling the tracking of items down to the unit level, serialization results in simplified returns processing and recall management, more accurate demand management, and the opportunity for more advanced loyalty programs.

Serialization allows each partner in the supply chain to track product at every step, from point of manufacture to the moment it’s in the consumer’s hands. In addition, when the product is returned, the serial number can be used on all shipping documents to provide information on status and the reason for the return. The information can be of great value in determining whether the product has any quality problems.

With certain recalls, such as children’s products and food and beverage items, the consumer is highly motivated to enter specific serialized information on a website about the purchased product.

Imagine the benefits this would have provided during the romaine lettuce recalls that surfaced last year. Consumers could have determined whether the item was at risk simply by entering a serial number into a website. Stores could have understood which products were safe to keep on shelves, and which needed to be pulled. Manufacturers would have better understood where the contaminated products were shipped, and communicated directly with those specific locations.

With serialization, as each product is returned by consumers and members of the supply chain, easily read serial numbers on each level of packaging are communicated to the brand owner as the products are passed back up the supply chain. Today, products that aren’t serialized bog down the return process, lacking proper and timely information for consumers, supply-chain employees and company executives.

Serialization allows demand management to be optimized. As each product is shipped through the supply chain, the brand owner has access to a timely and accurate tracking history. Shortages can be detected, and replacements shipped, more quickly.

Imagine how useful this would be in the retail industry. Using the power of serialization, one can ensure that the right products are being ordered and available for customers, rather than having a moment of bare shelves and lost sales.

Likewise, disappointing sales in wholesale channels and retail outlets can be detected and handled very quickly. This increase in brand owners’ knowledge can provide for much faster availability of key information regarding the performance of products or their retail outlets, and serve as a guide for making distribution decisions much faster and accurately.

From a brand integrity and anti-counterfeiting perspective, by tracking to the unit level, consumers can validate that the product they are purchasing is authentic. This is a major opportunity for the luxury goods industry.

Aside from the clear supply-chain benefits, opportunities for improvements in marketing are enormous. Marketing teams will be better equipped with timely information regarding sales of their products, allowing them to adjust marketing tactics as needed.

If supply of a specific product is high and sales are low, the company can run a special to promote the product. Demand-side information will be obtained faster and more completely than ever before, allowing for subtle changes to the way products are marketed. For example, communications from purchasers can provide invaluable feedback about product characteristics, which can be used in future advertising campaigns. Any changes in product design or advertising can be detected and altered much faster if a serialized track and trace system is implemented.

On the consumer side, entering validation of product purchase on the company’s website provides the opportunity for a targeted loyalty/rewards program that more closely aligns with that consumer’s needs. In the process, the consumer gets more relevant information and rewards, and the company gets the opportunity to create brand loyalty and increase targeted sales opportunities.

Supply chains have become much more efficient, and products are shipped through these channels much faster than before. Yet even with this increased efficiency, there are still many unrealized benefits of serialization in the supply chain. As more advanced labeling and serialization systems become available at lower price points, companies have the opportunity to embrace the next step in supply-chain management to create a game-changing differentiator through serialization.

Steve Wood is president and CEO of Covectra, Inc.

By: Steve Wood, SCB Contributor

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Case Studies

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Multi-Shipper Management Tools Help Retail Fulfillment Solution Providers Meet Their Clients' Complex Parcel Shipping Needs

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Coping With Black Friday 2020 — and Manufacturers’ ‘Crazy Thursday’

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Clarkston Consulting

This short video was created with the intent of explaining serialization to anyone – your coworkers, your boss, your next-door neighbor, your spouse – after watching this video, anyone should have a basic understanding of what serialization is, why it was created, and which challenges it’s intended to solve. For more information, visit Clarkstonconsulting.com/serialization

India’s Largest Private Port Operator Partners With Blockchain Platform TradeLens

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India’s largest port operator APSEZ has partnered with IBM’s TradeLens platform to digitize its supply chain process.

The largest multi-port operator of India, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ), has partnered with the blockchain-based supply chain solution platform TradeLens.

APSEZ plans to integrate TradeLens’s blockchain solutions across 10 of its major courier management facilities across ports in six Indian states — four in Gujarat and one each in Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Chennai, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

Digitizing to curb supply chain shortcomings exposed by the pandemic

According to the local business news outlet, Business Line, APSEZ’s move to digitize its supply chains comes as an effort to reduce the impact of vulnerabilities of the traditional current supply chain system. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic exposed the drawbacks of the present supply chain that heavily relies on paperwork and manual processes.

The report quoted an unnamed logistics industry official saying:

“During the pandemic, we realized the price of not digitizing the industry. There will be a mindset change now and more firms will adopt the technology.”

Developed by Maersk and IBM, TradeLens is expected to help APSEZ make information sharing more time and cost-efficient, transparent, and secure.

A study by QBIS Consulting on Total Transport and Logistics Costs (TTLC) estimated that digitizing supply chain workflow can save importers of a single major port up to $220 million annually. Exporters too could save around $40 million each year. The nationwide saving could scale to as much as $860 million.

Digitizing supply chains worldwide

TradeLens has made consistent progress in partnering with major industry players in an effort to digitize their supply chains.

In December 2019, TradeLens announced its partnership with a major Asian shipping terminal Cái Mép International Terminal. The following month, Oman’s largest port, Port of Salalah also partnered with the company to digitize its supply chain. Cointelegraph reported in March that Standard Chartered became the first bank to join the TradeLens platform.

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Every day, around the world, millions of shipping containers in motion. An incredible achievement of logistics, coordination and communication. But legacy data systems and manual document handling cause friction that costs both time and money for businesses and people throughout the supply chain. TradeLens is a digital shipping platform, powered by blockchain, that enables unprecedented transparency, collaboration and efficiency in global supply chains. Learn more about TradeLens: https://www.tradelens.com #TradeLens #Blockchain #Demo
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