Navigating global elections: A blueprint for supply chain resilience

From border tensions to protectionist policies, pressures continue to grow as election season heats up

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Throughout global history, few years stand out as significantly as 2024, marked by an exceptional number of elections spanning across continents. With half of the world’s population slated to cast votes in at least 64 countries, ranging from regional economic powerhouses to some of the world’s biggest economies, including the United States, Mexico (just completed), India, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom, the democratic process is set to unfold on an unprecedented scale. At the crux of this electoral anomaly lies a multitude of supply chain risks that threaten to disrupt global trade, commodity supplies, and cyberattacks.

In our comprehensive “Election Year Impact Report,” Everstream Analytics delves into the intricate web of challenges confronting supply chain professionals in this historic election year, offering insights and strategies to navigate the turbulent waters ahead.

Border tensions

Cross-border supply chains are crucial to global trade, but growing geopolitical tensions are casting a shadow over vital trade routes. In regions where two of the world’s busiest trade routes reside, like the Taiwan Strait and the U.S.-Mexico border, electoral outcomes have the potential to reshape existing trade dynamics, posing a challenge for businesses reliant on these critical supply chain networks.

Cross-border supply chains are crucial to global trade, but growing geopolitical tensions are casting a shadow over vital trade routes.

Taiwan's dominance in the global supply chain, particularly in the semiconductor industry, means that any disruptions can have cascading effects across the globe. With the country’s recent re-election of the Democratic People's Party, amid ongoing military and regulatory tensions with China, concerns are being raised about disruptions to the movement of trillions of dollars worth of goods.

Similarly, in response to the practice of companies nearshoring manufacturing away from China, Mexico has experienced a surge in exports to the U.S. However, migrant-related border disruptions fueled pre-election political tensions that are likely to have ramifications for cross-border trade between the United States and Mexico.

Commodity complexities

A wave of protectionist policies is likely to hit global trade as candidates from India, Indonesia, and the U.S. have all made promises to safeguard their domestic industries against foreign competition. From sugar in India to palm oil in Indonesia, restrictive export controls have the potential to put a damper on global commodity markets and further exacerbate an already vulnerable supply chain.

Moreover, as the demand for electric vehicles rises rapidly, so does the demand for the metal commodities inside their batteries. This, coupled with concern for protecting domestic raw material prices and supplies has led to new export bans and controls across the globe. The burgeoning demand for metals has also exacerbated tensions between mining industry advocates and environmentally conscious lawmakers in countries like Mexico and the United States, where future leadership will likely contribute to increased protectionism for these key commodities.

Cybersecurity risk

National elections present a prime opportunity for cybercriminals and foreign nation-state attackers to wield influence across borders and destabilize societies. The aviation and manufacturing sectors are particularly primed for vulnerability with inherently interconnected supply chains and a high number of reported cyberattacks in the past year.

Port and maritime operations are critical to the stability of the global supply chain, but the high number of stakeholders needed to keep the industry running makes them especially vulnerable to cyber-related incidents, particularly in the lead-up to national elections. Global technology leader Taiwan, for example, has faced a disproportionately high number of cyberattacks during election season.

Managing supply chain uncertainty

The resilience of global supply chains will be put to the test during this historic election year. The findings from Everstream Analytics’ Election Year Impact Report demonstrate the need for supply chain preparedness, proactivity, and prioritization. At a time when much about future national leadership is uncertain, businesses must mitigate the impact of geopolitical risks, commodity supply disruptions, and cybersecurity threats on their operations.

About the author:

Mirko Woitzik is global director of intelligence for Everstream Analytics, a supply chain risk monitoring firm.

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With major countries such as the U.S., India and Taiwan holding elections this year, supply chains face an uncertain path toward resiliency.
(Photo: (Photo: Getty Images))
With major countries such as the U.S., India and Taiwan holding elections this year, supply chains face an uncertain path toward resiliency.
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