45-46/2014 Axioms and slogans
It’s the big names, billed on the front pages of the programmes, that are amongst the best attractions of trade events these days. Well-known corporate leaders or operational decision-makers present us with their view of the world, frequently offering their listeners genuine insights. In this context I have observed a new trend, however, when these captains of industry come to describe their corporate objectives. I was rather surprised at the recent BVL congress in Berlin, for example, when Deutsche Post DHL’s Frank Appel repeatedly stated his intention of «making the world a better place» in a speech addressing the state of the industry in 2025. The same applies when we listen to shippers – such as Novartis, for example – whose representatives always seem to weave the fact that the firm’s efforts are dedicated to «promoting patients’ interests» into their speeches.
Corporations that never fail to present their quarterly sales and ebit figures making such statements naturally evokes an ironic smile. A colleague pointed out to me that such declarations always need a context too, however. Apparently there are quite a few listeners who aren’t really interested in the operational side of things at all, and who prefer to hear such messages. Fine by me.
The 52nd Fiata World Congress in Istanbul, which drew around 1,000 forwarders to Turkey recently, showed that both aspects can be incorporated in an event. Besides spontaneously establishing a fund to help combat the spread of ebola infections, Fiata also signed an MoU for future projects with the World Bank. Joint trade facilitation and connectivity measures, as well as the easing of customs restrictions for e-commerce consignments of limited value, were also formulated. A rather interesting cocktail, overall, which was laced with leading WTO and WCO representatives’ thoughts.
We’re still a long way from an ideal world – but we can all chip in to get that little bit closer.