Skip to main content

Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy

Volume 743: debated on Wednesday 17 January 2024

Today the Department for Business and Trade has published the UK’s first “Critical imports and supply chains strategy”. This meets the commitment made in the integrated review refresh in March 2023. The strategy can be accessed via the following link:

The commitment made in the integrated review refresh reflects the importance of ensuring the resilience of our critical supply chains for the UK’s economic prosperity, national security and essential services. These range from the semiconductors essential to modern electronics to the medicines that are used on a daily basis within the NHS. As the global economy changes, the UK is responding by using all its domestic, diplomatic, and trade levers to secure access to the most critical goods. This will safeguard and grow our economy both now and in the future. We are committed to ensuring that the UK remains a reliable and supportive place to do business, where firms can import the goods they need efficiently.

With the critical imports and supply chain strategy, this is the first time the Government have brought together existing work on supply chains, set out our priorities and outlined actions to enhance resilience further. The strategy aims to inform and reassure citizens and businesses in the UK that the Government are prioritising this work, while also informing international partners about the UK’s approach to critical imports and supply chain resilience. It highlights the benefits of free trade and the crucial role of businesses in managing their supply chains. The strategy builds on existing announcements made by the Government, such as the “Advanced Manufacturing Plan” and the “National Semiconductor Strategy”, to provide a cross-cutting approach to building resilience. The strategy has been informed by extensive engagement with businesses importing critical goods into the UK and operating in global supply chains.

The strategy sets out five priorities that will shape the Government’s ongoing work:

Making the UK Government a centre of excellence for supply chain analysis and risk assessment through building on our existing expertise to better understand the goods and the broader supply chain systems, including transport routes and infrastructure, that the UK needs now and in the future;

Removing critical import barriers to support the UK’s business-friendly environment, including through new work with business to identify and where appropriate address barriers in order to support the resilience of our critical supply chains;

Building the UK’s response to global supply chain shocks by continuing to refine and expand our capability to forecast and respond to external shocks to global supply chains, from extreme weather events to geopolitical incidents. This will include increasing the information available to businesses;

Ensuring the UK can adapt to long-term trends by developing the insights, policies and international partnerships needed to address long-term trends impacting supply chain resilience, including climate change, evolving geo-political dynamics and the growth of new industries and technologies; and

Expanding collaboration between Government, business and academia, including through the establishment of a new critical imports council.

We will publish a progress update in due course, setting out the steps that have been taken to deliver the strategy, and plans for further work.