Retail and Transport Sectors Most Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack

Brazil was the only Latin American country to see its terrorism risk rating increase last year, from medium to severe, due to widespread and large-scale violent anti-government protests throughout 2013, said Aon Risk Solutions. The group expects the unrest to continue in 2014, particularly ahead of the FIFA World Cup and the country’s October general elections.

The assessment comes in Aon’s ‘2014 Terrorism and Political Violence Map’, produced by the global risk management business of the company in collaboration with the Risk Advisory Group.

According to this year’s edition of the annual publication, the Middle East is the region most afflicted by terrorism in the world, with a 28% share of all terrorist attacks recorded worldwide in 2013. A new strain of Salafi Jihadism has emerged in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as evidenced by increased levels of terrorism. This is a cause and effect of the limited political recovery of post-Arab Spring countries, and has contributed to widespread high-to-severe risk ratings across the region.

Africa also continues to be a continent of high political violence and terrorism risk, with 22 countries having high to severe risk ratings. This is despite some improvements in the ratings, with eight decreases and just one increase to the 37 country scores that cover Sub-Saharan Africa in 2014.

Japan, Mozambique and Bangladesh have also seen increased terrorism scores with Bangladesh witnessing civil unrest over 70 days of strikes and accompanying protests in 2013, particularly against low wages and poor working conditions in the garments industry, adding to the issues impacting the retail sector.

The Map reviews attacks on businesses by sector, showing that the retail and transportation sectors were significantly affected in 2013, with 33% of terrorism attacks affecting the retail sector, and 18% percent of attacks taking place on the transportation sector. The retail sector includes venues such as public markets, which remain vulnerable to attack as seen last year in Kenya.

Terrorism remains a variable threat in the Eurasia region, with Russia and Turkey the most affected by the threat through 2013. Additionally, says Aon, the Winter Olympics in Russia, which will involve significant mass transportation moves, is seen as a potential terrorist target.

A Mixed Picture

The 2014 data also shows:

  •  A total of 34 countries attained reduced country terrorism risk scores.
  •  Four countries attained increased country risk scores Brazil, Japan, Mozambique and Bangladesh.
  •  In contrast with other regions, Europe saw notable improvement with 11 countries having civil commotion perils removed.
  • Overall country scores for Asia Pacific and Oceania region remain broadly stable with only four changes out of 29 countries and territories South Korea, Malaysia and Samoa all attained reduced risk ratings – while increased military spending and geopolitical tensions in Japan increased the country’s rating.
  • A third of all high and severe risk countries globally are in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The map shows that while the terrorism threat in the West has declined, other regions are witnessing significant increases in terrorist violence and activity,” said Neil Henderson, head of Aon Risk Solutions’ crisis management terrorism team.

“Having unrivalled access to regional data and fact-based insight enables our global clients to begin planning ahead of these trends by performing necessary risk identification and consider preventive risk management solutions. This insight allows our clients to plan overseas expansion or international growth and supports them in their efforts to be resilient to a terrorist or political violence threat.”

Ian Nunn QGM, head of Aon Risk Solutions’ crisis consulting team, added: “Clients are naturally keen to penetrate key economic markets around the world, and seek highly attractive opportunities where they can maximise greater returns from their investments.

“It is important for businesses to recognise that this will also pose significant new political, security and operational risks that will have to be combined with tough regulatory and legislative pressures. A clear understanding of exposure and risk including the possible rapid change in the political and security situations within their operating regions is necessary to ensure appropriate mitigation measures are in place to manage such exposure.”

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