Press release

Government ramps up work to secure supplies of medicines and smartphone chips

Government has taken further action to help secure the UK's supplies of critical goods with the launch of the new Critical Imports Council.

  • Government takes action to safeguard flows of vital goods such as medicines and smartphone chips with new Critical Imports Council.
  • New Council brings together 23 industry experts and will advise on securing resilience in UK supply chains of critical goods.
  • Council’s first meeting marks key milestone building on government’s Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy launched in January.

Government has taken further action to help secure the UK’s supplies of critical goods such as medicines and smartphone chips with the launch of a new Critical Imports Council today (17 April).

The Council is made up of 23 industry leaders and brings together expertise from business, academia and government to advise on securing resilience in supply chains for items critical to the UK’s economic prosperity, national security and essential services.

It builds on the Government’s first-of-its-kind Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy, launched in January, and will allow business and government to work together in implementing the Strategy’s 18 actions – ensuring businesses have a central voice in shaping government’s work to build supply chain resilience.

The events of recent years have shown the world we cannot afford to take for granted the resilience of the global supply chains we rely on for our critical imports. Recent attacks in the Red Sea, the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and environmental disasters have all demonstrated the potential impact of global events on the reliable flow of vital goods.

Imported goods are crucial to our economy. They ensure lower prices, greater choice, and help businesses to be more productive. They also enable innovation, drive growth, and are essential to the UK’s world-leading industries, from aerospace to life sciences.

Business and Trade Minister and Chair of the Critical Import Council Alan Mak said:

It’s never been more important to strengthen our supply chains and make sure vital goods can continue reaching consumers, in the face of the pandemic, the Red Sea attacks and many other crises around the world.

That’s why we’re now going even further to strengthen our critical goods supplies with the launch of this new Council, which will bring together government and industry experts to help protect businesses from supply chain shocks now and in the future.

Leading UK businesses including Rolls-Royce and Johnson Matthey will sit on the Council to help the UK develop resilient and secure supply chains that protect both business and the consumers who rely on them.

The Council will work with government to tackle the supply challenges businesses face and develop real-life solutions. Meeting quarterly, they will collaborate on emerging supply chain risks and identify the support UK businesses need to reduce vulnerabilities in supply chains – including how we use our overseas network in more than 100 countries to connect with new suppliers.

The Department for Business and Trade will also create a new online portal where businesses can report red tape or supply chain problems, allowing work to start on resolving the issues quickly.

Andy Walker, Technology Director at Johnson Matthey said:

Supply chain resilience of critical goods is essential for Johnson Matthey, so it’s great to be part of the Critical Imports Council, in which government, industry and academia will work together to agree the best approaches to implement actions identified within the Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy.

Rhett Hatcher, CEO of UK Chamber of Shipping said:

As an island nation the UK relies on shipping to deliver its energy, food and medical supplies with billions of pounds worth of imports each year.

In an unpredictable world, it is vital that the UK government acts to improve the UK’s resilience to global supply chains shocks. The establishment of this Council is an important step and will enable us to work together to tackle our collective challenges.

I look forward to joining other leaders from across our supply chains, government and academia to ensure that we have robust UK supply chains helping our economic prosperity, national security and essential services.

Richard Torbett, ABPI Chief Executive, said:

Supporting and safeguarding the resilient supply of medicines and vaccines to the NHS is critical to the wider health and wealth of UK citizens, which is why the work of the Government’s new Critical Imports Council is so important.

I look forward to working with others to maintain and further improve the UK’s robust and responsive medicines supply.

Logistics UK Chief Executive David Wells OBE said:

Logistics UK’s seat on the Critical Imports Council recognises the vital role that the logistics sector plays in ensuring the success of the UK economy, and we welcome the government’s invitation to join the discussions, building on the knowledge we amassed during the pandemic.

The breadth of experience on the council is exceptional and, working together, we can develop practical solutions to secure the UK’s supply chains and mitigate risks to the flow of essential goods to UK households, businesses and public services.

The Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy will enable government to share vital information and guidance with businesses on the risks to key supply chains and the practical steps they can take to protect themselves from disruption, including regular updates on emerging supply chain risks, such as new export bans on critical everyday goods imposed by other countries.

Please see below the full list of members attending today’s Critical Imports Council:

  • ADS Group
  • Association of British Healthtech Industries
  • Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
  • BAE Systems
  • BASF
  • British Chambers of Commerce
  • British Generic Manufacturers Association
  • BT
  • Chemical Business Association
  • Cranfield School of Management
  • Critical Minerals Association
  • Institute of Export and International Trade
  • Tech UK
  • Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining
  • Johnson Matthey
  • Logistics UK
  • Make UK
  • Maritime UK
  • Renewable UK
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)
  • UK Chambers of Shipping
  • UK Trade Policy Observatory


The Department for Business and Trade published the first-of-its-kind Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy in January 2024.

Published 17 April 2024