The Hidden Cost of Supply Chain Disruptions: Case Study of the UK’s Automotive Sector
Authors: Escaith, H., Khorana, S. and Kerr, W.
Journal: SocioEconomic Challenges
As the world economy has become increasingly integrated the spectre of transnational supply chains has become a central feature of globalisation. The smooth and unfettered working of transnational supply chains has facilitated efficiency increasing changes to business operations (such as just in time inventory management). The automotive sector worldwide has been at the forefront of internationally integrated supply systems. The European Union (EU) has, in part, been structured to reduce friction in Europe-wide supply chains through the single market. Transnational supply chains are at the heart of United Kingdom (UK) – EU trade, and the UK’s departure from the EU’s single market (Brexit) will increase friction in international trade. This case study of the UK’s automotive sector uses a social network approach to analyse supply chain linkages between the UK, EU and other trading partners, and how these could be impacted as a result of Brexit. We use data from Trade in Value Added (TiVA) and World Input-Output Database (WIOD) to map supply chains, estimate total value-added in exports and examine how Brexit is likely to impact the competitiveness of UK exports. Results confirm that the UK’s automotive sector is closely integrated with the EU. To offset the loss of UK’s export competitiveness after Brexit, trade facilitation measures complemented with a duty drawback scheme could be an option in the short run. Policy measures are, however, unlikely to replace the benefits of duty-free and frictionless access enjoyed under single market trading arrangements. This suggests that the UK automotive sector, which is primarily comprised of globally active firms, may have to reconfigure supply chain arrangements and in the long run alter how decisions pertaining to locations are made.