As we turn the page on 2020, it’s human nature to search for the silver linings in what will go down in history as one of the most turbulent and unpredictable years that we’ve ever witnessed—especially on the global logistics and international trade front.
The pandemic quickly reminded us just how small the world is, as well as the fact that our economies and supply chains are more inter-connected than ever. Today, even the smallest hiccup in the manufacturing and supply belt of Southeast Asia triggers a domino effect that’s now felt on the consumer’s doorstep here in the United States.
With that in mind, the editorial staff of Logistics Management has focused much of this issue on helping global logistics managers better understand where we are now in terms of services and technology in an effort to control what they can while moving freight through the world’s ever-puzzling borders.
Starting on page 18, European correspondent Dagmar Trepins kicks things off by putting the general state of global logistics into perspective as we move through recovery—and helps locate a couple of the emerging bright spots.
“It’s true that the pandemic amplified the challenges that global shippers were already facing at the end of 2019—trade tensions, hyper-tight capacity, an unsettled Brexit,” says Trepins from her office in Denmark. “However the situation has clearly demonstrated how flexible and reliable our logistics networks are, as shippers, carriers and service providers worked together to keep essential products flowing through our supply chains. That fact alone should be celebrated.”
And that concept of accelerated collaboration is probably best illustrated in the mounting efforts taking place in vaccine distribution. As Trepins reports, we’re starting to see the development of public-private collaborative airfreight taskforces in Asia and throughout Europe to help meet the daunting demands of maintaining stringent temperature-controlled environments.
“We’re seeing some truly selfless acts of goodwill during this trying period,” adds Trepins. “The air cargo industry as well as their network and technology partners have proven that they’re well prepared for what’s being called the biggest and most important mission the industry has ever seen.”
And while we’re seeing collaboration and goodwill blossom on the international front, contributing editor Bridget McCrea reports this month (page 32) that we’re also seeing the accelerated adoption of global trade management (GTM) systems here in the United States—another silver lining.
“Analyst sources have been pushing for the adoption of GTM for years,” says McCrea, “and the confluence of the pre-existing global challenges and the residual effects of the pandemic should offer the final push.”
As McCrea reports, The World Trade Organization is projecting a 7.2% increase in global trade this year as recovery continues, representing a turnaround from the 9.2% decline in 2020. “If this increase comes to fruition,” she adds, “it’s projected that GTM is going to become the ‘new essential’ for logistics organizations that are looking to keep pace with the competition, manage higher tariffs, and maintain their global footprint as economic nationalism begins to take hold.”