While supply chain management is a relatively new concept, trade is one of the oldest human occupations. Among the first global trade routes was the Silk Road, named after the silk trade, a textile industry initially developed in China around the year 2,700 BC.
Even after China's monopoly on silk came to an end, the Silk Road continued to facilitate trade, cultural exchanges, and diplomacy. The Silk Road was 7,000 miles long; it is estimated that a round trip from Rome to China took about two years. By comparison, rail shipping from Europe to China takes 10-12 days.
Since then trade has evolved tremendously-the World Trade Organization (WTO) estimates that the value of world merchandise trade in 2018 was US$ 19.67 trillion. The only aspect that has remained constant is that supply chains are still continuously disrupted. For instance, the Silk Road spread viruses and diseases such as smallpox in the past, and it seems possible that global supply chains also contributed to the recent COVID-19 pandemic.