Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (May 3, 2024)

I will be radioactive next week. Literally.

Next week I will undergo radioactive iodine treatment to kill off whatever thyroid cells (cancerous or not) remain in my body. For the past two weeks I’ve been on a low-iodine diet in preparation for it: no dairy, no commercial breads, no fish, no anything with iodized salt (which is most packaged foods), no eating out, and no to a lot of other foods I like to eat.

Basically, I’ve been starving my remaining thyroid cells of iodine so that when I ingest the radioactive iodine, they will readily absorb it and eventually die off.

So, yeah, I will be radioactive next week. Not enough to glow in the dark, but enough that I’ll have to “social distance” from others for a few days.

Just another pitstop on this most crazy journey I’ve been on the past 7+ months. 

Before I start setting off Geiger counters, here’s the supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week:

Proving the Absence of Forced Labor in Supply Chains Getting Harder

In a Talking Logistics episode last August, Daniel Smith (Director of Sustainability and ESG at e2open at time) commented that “under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), due diligence means you have to prove the absence of any forced labor touching any aspect of your product. Due diligence isn’t reasonable care, it’s proof positive now…but how do you prove the absence of something?” 

Unfortunately, proving the absence of forced labor in China-based supply chains is getting more difficult. As Richard Vanderford reports in the Wall Street Journal, “Forced laborers are being transferred from China’s Xinjiang region to elsewhere in the country in growing numbers, a Biden administration official said, a problem that could test corporate efforts to comply with a U.S. supply-chain crackdown.”

Here are a couple of other excerpts from the article:

China has turned its national security laws against due-diligence firms, and last month increased fines on the Beijing arm of Mintz Group. Chinese domestic producers also have faced pressure not to cooperate with compliance efforts of the U.S. companies that buy their products.

“Social audits in China should not be seen as an authoritative source for companies reflecting on-the-ground human-rights conditions,” said [Thea Lee, the deputy undersecretary for international affairs at the U.S. Labor Department]. “The business community needs to be aware that any audits, and frankly, any business operations, undertaken inside China carry heightened labor and human-rights risks.”

In other words, if your supply chain touches China, complying with UFLPA is getting much harder. If suppliers are indeed being pressured by the Chinese government not to help U.S. companies with their compliance efforts, then I’m not sure what companies can do to fully ensure forced labor isn’t being used in their supply chains — other than leave China altogether, of course.

Add this to the growing risks of continuing to have China-dependent supply chains. 

For related commentary on this topic, please read:

And with that, have a meaningful weekend!

Song of the Week: “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons