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Supply chains in the UK are among the least secure in Europe, according to new research from QBE.

The insurer looked at how political, economic, environmental, cyber and infrastructure risks hit companies’ ability to build strong supply chains across Europe, and ranked the results.

The UK came towards the bottom, in 12th position out of the 15 countries that were assessed. Only Spain, Italy and Greece ranked lower.

The top three positions were occupied by the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden.

The research was based on data compiled from sources including the EU, the World Bank, the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation.

One of the reasons why the UK ranked so far down was the poor quality of its infrastructure, especially roads and air transport.

Richard Pryce, chief executive of QBE’s European operations, said: “The UK’s infrastructure lags behind many European peers which is unacceptable for a country of our economic aspirations.”

He added: “If we are to be a nation that continues to build economic growth, it is essential that components and goods can be effectively . . . moved around the country.”

“With Brexit fast approaching, it is more important than ever that the country is able to move components and goods in and out of the UK. The survey shows just how far behind the UK is with our northern European neighbours.”

The research suggests that only Italy and Greece have worse road infrastructure than the UK.

The UK also scored poorly on political risks to supply chains, as the risk of terrorist attacks offset higher scores for political stability and the rule of law.

The country fared slightly better when it came to environmental and economic risks. The relatively low risk of floods, earthquakes and droughts meant that it came fifth out of 15 on the environmental assessment,

For economic risks, the UK was in the middle of the pack thanks to high scores for labour/employer relations, the burden of the customs procedure and ethics. The UK also scored relatively highly on cyber security.

The high score on the customs procedure could be under threat from Brexit. A survey earlier this year from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply found that 46 per cent of European businesses expected to reduce their use of UK suppliers because of Brexit. A third of UK businesses that used EU suppliers were expecting to look for domestic replacements.

The top country, the Netherlands, did well in most categories with the exception of exposure to floods.

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