Daniel Feldman, Lars Hjelm Talk Supply Chain Integrity with Metro Corp Counsel
Metropolitan Corporate Counsel has interviewed Akin Gump international trade partners Amb. Daniel Feldman and Lars-Erik Hjelm, focusing on their work with clients on supply chain integrity and corporate social responsibility (CSR), among other topics, for the article “The Quest for Safety in an Unsafe World: Taking a multidisciplinary tack in supply chain and other risk mitigation.”
Among the points made by the interviewees were:
- Supply chain risk: “[L]et’s take a footwear and apparel company as an example. Its vendor might hire a logistics provider to store the cargo in a facility that is in close proximity to hazardous material. The footwear company should know about that, and it should undertake a review and ask the right questions. That’s the lesson to be drawn – conducting due diligence over vendors and vendors’ vendors and understanding everything that goes into the supply chain, including the platforms for shipping goods from a particular port.” (Hjelm)
- CSR and the supply chain: “Now much of the focus of CSR is on a new generation of questions: What is the exposure that we have from our supply chain, and how do we define that for our product? It continues to be about risk mitigation, though, which can be legal risk, reputational risk, operational risk, or political risk. But increasingly, the suppliers and the sub-suppliers are contributing to a company’s risk, and as companies recognize that, they want to take more steps to effectively mitigate it.” (Feldman)
- Conflict minerals and the supply chain: “The problem is that it’s confined under U.S. law at least to one area of Africa: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the adjoining countries. The challenge is that companies that produce goods may be very, very, very far removed from the process of the mining and extraction of these minerals, and, so, it’s really a difficult process and a controversial one. It’s an illustration of how far down the supply chain some mandates and legal regimes now require companies to review.” (Hjelm)
- Conflict minerals and CSR: “[T]here was a significant report by Amnesty International last month alleging child labor was used in the supply chains of key electronic brands due to cobalt mined by child laborers in the DRC that ultimately wound up in their products. Cobalt is not one of the currently covered minerals by the SEC. But is the reputational risk going to drive companies to do something more about this, and how will both the stakeholders and the corporations continue to adapt to new challenges like this?” (Feldman)
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