During my time at the Berlin-, LA-based innovation studio PCH Innovations we had the opportunity to guide Europe’s leading automotive manufacturer through acute times of crisis. Together with my colleague Vanessa Weiss we created a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative strategic foresight study entailing all trends in various industries underlined by the question How will the Tsunami in Fukushima effect the supply chain and global economy?
‘An earthquake has struck the the north-east coast of Japan, near Fukushima Prefecture, almost ten years since the area was devastated by a much stronger earthquake and tsunami that took more than 19,000 lives and led to global supply chain disruption‘
(…) Reliance on Japanese suppliers dropped sharply following the 2011 earthquake for the importer-product pairs most dependent on Japan. In both industries, the earthquake appeared to accelerate pre-existing declining trends, but the drop was precipitous – more than 10% – for the auto industry.(…)
(…) We find that in the years following the shock, production relocation decisions were largely driven by economic fundamentals rather than policy. Developing countries, rather than top exporters, were the primary beneficiaries of relocation and production tended to relocate to larger countries, suggesting importers were seeking low-cost suppliers that could produce at scale. There is no evidence that supply chains were increasingly regionalised or that importers sought proximate suppliers, except in the case of final autos where transport costs are especially high.
For both auto and electronics, intermediate imports were significantly less affected by the shock than imports of final goods, consistent with work by Martin et al. (2021) on the persistence of intermediates trade. This finding suggests that GVC-links bind countries together in ways that are difficult to untangle following a crisis. (…)