Since January 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread impacts on virtually every sector of the global economy, including world trade and global supply chains. The unprecedented effect of such a pandemic and the resultant restriction rules imposed in many countries have revealed acute bottleneck in supply chains links in many trade regions. For example, it has been widely reported that significant disruptions have been experienced by a number of firms whose supply chains are heavily dependent on China, and more than 200 of the Fortune Global 500 firms have a presence in Wuhan, the highly industrialized province where the outbreak originated, and has been hardest hit. As a result, it has been argued that the existing globalised economies might require to be restructured in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic when governments and firms start to re-strategize their critical supply chains through back-shoring and near-shoring. Hence, the reconfiguration of global supply chains and restructuring of their associated operations is inevitable.
As more than 90% of the world trade in terms of volume are moved by sea, the global maritime supply chain is considered critical. Like many other economic sectors, various segments of the maritime industry have been severely impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of maritime networks, port efficiency, and hinterland connectivity. As a consequence, global shipping markets have been negatively affected with the slump in demand for goods on everything from container ships to oil tankers. The impact of COVID-19 has not only forced cruise shipping to cancel orders and trips, but also created a massive reduction in demand due to non-essential travel, a largely reduced workforce in factories and the closure of production and shipbuilding facilities. Being closely and directly linked to the economic activities, the container shipping sector has also been severely affected due to lockdowns and other social restrictions. Meanwhile, ports as critical nodes in global maritime supply chains have been congested due to reduced workforce, productivity and lengthened cargo receipt/delivery transactions. At the same time, other shipping intermediaries i.e. freight forwarders and logistics service providers who play crucial roles in connecting demand and supply of maritime supply chains have also suffered due to reduced business transactions.
Given this context, there is a need to re-evaluate global maritime supply chains in light of the new business environment. Hence, the focus of this special issue is on understanding possible trends of global trade and maritime supply chains and developing strategies and policies in the aftermath of the pandemic. It is expected that papers will contribute to furthering our knowledge on:
- what lessons have been learned so far and what preparedness alternatives are necessary?
- what new best practices and strategies are required to be developed and implemented? and,
- how can technology assist in minimising and mitigating the risks of distributing goods and services during and after the pandemics?
This special issue of the Maritime Business Review aims to address the aforesaid issues and encourages the submission of high quality and impactful research. We believe that expected new knowledge and practices from this special issue will help building more resilient and responsive maritime supply chain networks during and after the pandemic business environment. We encourage in-depth case studies, papers with secondary data analysis, and papers with primary data analysis employing qualitative/quantitative or mixed-method.
Several research themes can be addressed in this special issue. Some research issues may include but are not limited to:
• Impacts of reshoring or near-shoring production and supply destinations and reconfiguration of global maritime supply chains;
• Triple-Bottomline (economic, social and environmental) impacts of COVID-19 on various sectors of maritime supply chain i.e. dry and liquid bulk, general cargo, container, cruise, as well as ports and terminals, freight forwarding, and ship building;
• Capacity management of the various maritime supply chain sectors to adapt to the fluctuating market demand;
• Strategies to address vulnerability and build more resilience and responsive maritime supply chain networks in the aftermath of COVID-19;
• Mitigation strategies of shipping, port and other maritime sectors in the post-pandemic business environment;
• The role of digital technologies in decision-making processes and coordination mechanisms in the new business environment;
• Designing innovative collaborative partnership and supply chain network structures for developing robust global maritime network systems.