Trade, ports and strategies
The reorganisation of shipping on a global scale also affects freight forwarders. At the FIATA World Conference 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Jan Hoffmann, head of trade logistics at Unctad, presented his analysis.
The future of international trade and the offering of the global container shipping industry is a rather mixed picture globally and the audience were happy to be presented with the results of some crystal ball gazing. But as far as the trade logistics sector is concerned, the outlook is generally bleak. Jan Hoffmann, head of trade logistics at Unctad, made his analyses on the basis of a vast array of statistics and presented his findings at Fiata in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the beginning of October. The audience listened with rapt attention, because the interests of freight forwarders are inextricably bound up with shipping.
Changing trade flows and the position of ports
Connectivity that is the basis of changing supply chains has again been undergoing some marked transformations in 2017. The Unctad Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI) has once again brought to light some regional surprises. Thus Panama has ahead of Peru or Chile in the offering of the shipping industry, and the big impact of the enlarged canal has not occurred so far. China has lost some shipping market share, but to a lesser extent than, for example, South Korea. Sri Lanka improved proportionally against India and Pakistan, while Malaysia and Singapore are at about the same level in 2017.
The rationalisation of the sector has continued. Thus the costs of the supply chain, which cover storage and handling of goods, have fallen from 48.8% in 1980 to 29.4% in 2016 in the US, for instance. Hoffmann is concerned, however, about the situation of the ports: “The position of the ports has weakened as shipping companies can quickly redirect goods flows.” His recommendation to the ports is therefore to cautiously follow the trend in infrastructure in favour of mega-ships. “Mega-ships can sometimes imply less loading, but more expense.” Connectivity should be adapted to the regional situation. The Unctad Review of Maritime Transport 2017 coming out in Geneva at the end of October is therefore eagerly awaited.
Successful conference in Kuala Lumpur
Seafreight was only one of the many themes at the 56th Fiata World Conference. The more than 1,000 delegates from 77 countries exchanged news and views not only about modes and modalities of transport and legal frameworks, but the hosts, represented by transport minister YB Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong and Alvin Chua, president of the Malaysian freight forwarder association FMFF, also shared Malaysia’s plans for the future. The country has a master plan to become one of the most important logistic gateways in Asia as early as 2020.
Fiata also held elections to its governing bodies. Babar Badat from Pakistan, CEO of Transfreight Corporation, replaces Zhao Huxiang of Sinotrans as Fiata president. Robert Voltmann is the new secretary-general and Francesco Parisi the new treasurer, whilst Turgut Erkeskin, Genel Transport, was newly elected vice-president and member of the extended board.