43-44/2016 Long-term developments
It’s not easy nowadays to take a far-sighted approach. But why is that the case? On the one hand, the future seems to change even faster under our gaze than we can even cast our look. On the other hand, the fast-paced world of business is responsible for allowing us merely to drive by sight mostly.
Despite that, or perhaps precisely because of that reason, it’s always fascinating to look further afield. A good opportunity for such an approach is offered by congresses. I, for one, do not support the acidic claim that the only thing to come out of a conference are the people who went inside. In fact, depending on the quality of the speakers, a worthwhile glance into the crystal ball is customarily in the offing. My high expectations recently found confirmation at the Fiata World Congress 2016, the annual general meeting of global freight forwarders.
The talk given by the former Irish prime minister John Bruton turned out not to be a sleepy Sunday sermon, but was a brutally honest account of the current political and economic situation in the world. Numerous contributions pointed out the potential consequences of Brexit beyond the European area. Dan March of the WCA network, who had just returned from a trip to China, explained that sales in the amount of USD 2 trillion are expected in the global e-commerce business for 2020 – and that 40% of all internet portals are currently refusing orders because they are overwhelmed by the implications that come with delivery on the last mile or the returns logistics. This needs to be addressed.
One major subject continued to be the global treaty on facilitating trade (TFA), which is wrongly attracting little attention in the industry. Donia Hammami of ICC and Nora Neufeld from the WTO not only showed the impressive potentials, such as an average reduction in global trade costs by 14.3% or an increase in global exports by approximately USD 1 trillion. They also made it clear that ratification of the TFA by the 110th WTO member is still possible in 2016, as there are currently 94 signatory states. In other words: the coming into force of this document is imminent, and it may well be followed by a potential export boom – unnoticed by many.
The increasing employment levels of women in the industry were an additional highlight. The grassroots talent among freight forwarders honoured this year, Shanon Gould, incidentally comes from New Zealand and works in Australia. It therefore pays off to go long distances.