Keeping Supply Chains Safe from Illicit Trade


Keeping Supply Chains Safe from Illicit Trade


Fabio Santucci, President of MSC in the USA, speaking to Christopher Clague, from the Economist Intelligence Unit

Global trade allows countries to expand their markets across national borders which bring a great choice and availability of containerized goods to consumers around the world, from the clothes we wear, to the medicines and fresh produce we rely on to stay well.

However, the expansion of trade also opens opportunities to the criminals on the fringes of society, who will always search for any means possible to move illegal and unethical goods everywhere.

In a rare appearance by a container shipping executive talking about the problems of illicit trade, Fabio Santucci, President of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company in the USA, explained to the World Trade Symposium in New York some of the measures that MSC, a world leader in transportation and logistics, implements to try to curb illicit trade.

Speaking to Chris Clague, who oversees the Global Illicit Trade Index for The Economist Intelligence Unit, Fabio pointed out that governments in charge of curbing the trade of counterfeit goods, weapons, drugs, ivory and other illicit goods cannot do it alone. Therefore, he called for greater collaboration and cooperating across the industry and between the private and public sectors.

Measures for the safety and security of containers 

Illicit trade damages the global economy and harms public health worldwide. As people continue to buy arms, drugs, animal hunting trophies and other illicit goods on the black markets, securing global supply chains remains of paramount importance.

“MSC is a responsible company and we implement a variety of measures to ensure the safety and security of our containers and our customers’ cargo within them,” Fabio told an audience from business, public policy and academia. “To keep the supply chain safe, everybody has to participate and be actively involved” Fabio said.

Fabio referred to MSC’s know-your-customer (KYC) and cargo booking screening protocols, which help minimise the risk of undeclared or misdeclared cargo entering the supply chain. He added that a range of physical security measures such as guards, sniffer dogs and even divers are deployed at the company’s own expense in the most sensitive regions where the risk from organized crime is most prominent.

Maintaining a culture in which crew and staff ashore feel comfortable and incentivized to report suspicious activities is also a key part of MSC’s approach.

Looking to the future, Fabio highlighted MSC’s advocacy for the smart containerization of the shipping and logistics sector and the company’s efforts to propose container tracking and monitoring solutions which are becoming more popular with shippers and policy makers alike. "A simple feature, such as a monitoring device, connected to the internet, which sends an alert when a container door is unexpectedly opened, could go a long way to enhancing container security." Fabio said.

However, everyone involved in the sector needs to take an interest in the many advantages from smart containers in order to make this technology a reality. “It is crucially important that the cargo owners who are our customers understand these solutions and that everyone in the sector comes to the table to appreciate the merits and advantages of greater visibility of cargo flow and the enhanced security that smart containers can bring to global trade,” he said.

Fabio also pointed out MSC’s pioneering role as a co-founder of the Digital Container Shipping Industry, which is seeking to establish digital industry standards to ease the flow of information around the sector and facilitate the uptake of IoT-enabled (Internet of Things) solutions such as smart containers, as well as the company’s participation in projects to make shipping data exchange more efficient and more secure using blockchain technologies.

MSC would like to thank The Economist for the invitation to speak and address this topic within such a prestigious forum as the World Trade Symposium.