By Guy Allen, Managing Director, Real World Sourcing Ltd.

Outside of wartime, it is difficult to think of a year that represents greater uncertainty than 2018 is likely to deliver. Brexit, the Trump administration and Catalonia’s campaign for independence represent a trinity of turmoil that challenges the relatively stable progress of Western liberal democracy and commerce (and all those connected to it). But in truth, we have yet to feel the true consequences, it is in 2018 that this casserole of chaos will come to the boil.

In the upcoming webinar Guy Allen will be looking at Procurement Planning for 2018 and sharing steps you can take to develop your plans for the coming year. Register now!

What will happen with Brexit? To date, both sides have been dancing round the main issues in a very public display of negotiation conditioning. Are the talks making progress? Is there a standoff? Have the EU already decided not to do a deal, to deliver a very public punishment of the UK to discourage any other country following suit? It is hard to tell if the biased media (from both sides), which put their own slant on it, make true progress even more challenging. If the lack of a deal increases costs, there is little that can be done to mitigate these in the medium term. As well as an impact on costs, no deal could result in a huge supply delay as the UK (and the EU) re-establishing the customs checks and reviews at the ports that have not been required for 40 years. Simply the inability to get sufficient trained staff at these locations could delay throughput of goods and that is without any political shenanigans that may be in play. So, possibly increasing levels of safety stock of critical items may make sense while these practical issues are resolved.

The impact of Trump may well have already played its course on the US domestic scene as his support, even within his own party dwindles. However, he could have significant impact on the global scene, with the unthinkable possibility of a conflict with North Korea and maybe even Iran. Sadly, he is probably more likely to get support in his party for these activities, than he is for domestic economic changes.

Then finally the events in Catalonia could have a significant impact outside of North East Spain. If Catalonia manages to establish independence, then there would be nothing to stop any administration that can hold elections (such as Northern Italy, Scotland, the Basque region, Texas and many others) to go down the same path. What this would do to trade in the EU alone is hard to imagine, but could lead to further disintegration of the EU by default.

By the start of 2019 a lot of these unknowns will start to be resolved, but as we step towards 2018 it is impossible to know what the next 14 months will hold. Will the Casserole of Chaos boil over?

In his upcoming webinar Guy Allen will look at how to plan ahead for 2018 – a year filled with such uncertainty. Register now!