Daily Archives: October 8, 2015

Geopolitical Damnation 32: Political Unrest / Riots

It’s not just unexpected labour strikes that can throw a wrench into your best laid plans, but political unrest as well, both on the public side and the government side.

Political unrest on the public side can lead to widespread walkouts across the public and private sectors, including unauthorized strikes where unions are involved and unauthorized on-the-job walkouts in the private sector where unions are not present, and shut down the better portion of a city, state, or even a country. It’s like a port strike coupled with a driver strike coupled with a warehouse worker strike coupled with a retail sales outlet strike as your entire supply chain inbound and outbound in that city, state, or country is brought to a screeching halt. And this might be the best outcome as a result of widespread unrest.

If the people really get upset, they might not settle for walk-outs and instead decide that they are going to full-scale riot, which will, of course, result in looting, destruction of property, and possibly even terrorist-like actions that result in burning and destruction of entire facilities. So, not only might your supply chain come to a screeching halt literally overnight, but your inventory might be stolen, your production line destroyed, and your building burnt to the ground.

While political unrest on the public side can get quite bad, especially if your facility gets destroyed, political unrest on the government side can be even worse. If, all of a sudden, a government agent takes a strong dislike to your country of origin or your company, every one of your shipments can be held up at the border, any items that appear to be in violation of a directive (such as REACH, WEEE, or a country equivalent) seized until appropriate tests are conducted, each drum or container of a perishable food item at risk of contamination opened for inspection or confirmation (forcing an entire shipment to be destroyed), and each item deemed to be misclassified under the countries HS code held until you pay the maximum fine. And this is again the better outcome.

Your company can be put on a denied parties list and all imports blocked. Your country can be put under embargo for one or more categories of goods that your company produces, also blocking all imports. Your company can be suspected of engaging in, or doing business with companies that engage in, illegal activities and all of your operations in the country effectively shut down when your bank accounts are frozen, all of your files and servers confiscated, and your inventory seized. A government (agent) that has it out for you — possibly even because of the country your HQ is in, the country you are importing from, or the country you are exporting to — can effectively shut your entire operation down seemingly overnight with almost no notice whatsoever.

Political unrest is a very bad thing, and a very deadly damnation when it rises up to consume your supply chain operation whole.