Global Logistics: Uncertainty is a constant

While we’re all getting sick of hearing the term “uncertainty,” in the vitally important global logistics arena there’s always been—and always will be—a cloud of doubt hanging over the head of the logistic professional charged with moving freight to, from and throughout distant lands

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The trade environment is ever shifting, and service disruptions and failures are a constant no matter who’s sitting in the White House.

I remember several conversations over the years with logistics managers who have had their companies slap new global supply chain expansion plans on their desks—only to find that they had to piece together a freight transportation network in a region of the world in which no one in the organization had ever done business, yet alone visit.

For many logistics operations new to the global arena, it can come down to solving a complex puzzle with pieces consisting of unknown carriers, 3PLs and freight forwarders of all shapes, sizes and capabilities. While a plan comes together, all too often the logistics operation holds its collective breath, hoping that all of the pieces actually connect.

As we have over the past few years, the editorial staff of Logistics Management uses our February issue to focus on this ever-changing global arena. While we may not have all of the answers to fitting those pieces together perfectly from a great distance, we can offer some advice and shed some light on shifting global markets, regulations and carrier services.

Kicking off the collection this year (page 24), executive editor Patrick Burnson highlights the continually impressive growth of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the 10 Southeast Asian nations that had a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion in 2015 and was on course to see 4.5% growth last year. In fact, the AEC posted an impressive $2.3 trillion in total trade in 2015, marking the 4th largest share of global trade behind Germany, the United States and China.

“In its third year of existence as a trade configuration, the region has quickly become one of the true bright spots in global trade,” says Burnson. “And while the trade numbers are staggering, one of the more impressive stories revolves around how the region is turning to public/private partnerships to improve infrastructure and services—maybe a lesson that the United States can take to heart.”

And as more shippers look to stretch their networks into the AEC, we can almost be assured that, no matter how any pending trade agreement changes shake out, we should be seeing the market for global trade management (GTM) software get a hearty boost.

“Especially now that TPP has been axed, the software analysts I spoke with this month are bullish on GTM,” says contributing editor Bridget McCrea. “It’s clear that vendors now have more opportunities than ever to grow, expand and add capabilities. And from a shipper side, now is the time to make the ROI case for investment internally.”

Starting on page 38, McCrea offers global shippers five trends that can help justify that GTM implementation. Rounding out the rest of this global package we have group news director Jeff Berman summing up the possible adjustments to NAFTA (page 18); leading 3PL analyst Dick Armstrong offering key factors to keep in mind when choosing a global logistics partner (page 22); and columnist Peter Moore explaining how to manage ocean cargo rates in the age of increased carrier consolidation (page 20).

While uncertainly has always been a constant in global logistics management, we hope that this collection of insight will help shed a little light on how we can prepare for whatever shifts are coming our way.

About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [email protected]

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Article Topics

ASEAN · Global Trade · Viewpoint · All Topics
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