Logistics industry worried about future of free trade

24 January 2017

Nearly 69% of logistics professionals are worried about a global retreat from free trade, a survey has found.

Logistics firm Agility, in its annual report on emerging markets, said the concern follows the election of Trump, UK’s vote to leave the European Union and the collapse of a number of regional and global trade talks.

It also said of the 800 global logistics professionals asked, 42.8% said they felt the IMF’s emerging market growth forecast of 4.6% for 2017 was too optimistic.

Alongside the industry survey, the report compiles an annual index ranking emerging economies on their attractiveness to logistics providers. China, India and the UAE topped the list of 50 this year.

The report said robust growth and reforms to taxation and the economy pushed India into the number two spot, overtaking the UAE, while the industry survey named India as the country with the most logistics potential and where respondents said their companies were most likely to invest.

Almost half of the ranked countries saw their score fall compared to last year, a sign of stagnation in global trade growth, the report said. 

The UAE, ranked number three overall, was the best country for business climate, logistics infrastructure and for transport connections. Gulf countries scored particularly well on indicators for business climate.

Nigeria and South Africa were among the countries that fell the furthest in the rankings compared to last year, nine places and four places respectively. Conversely, it was some of the smaller African countries, including Kenya and Ethiopia, which saw some of the biggest rises.

Iran was the most improved country, climbing eight places to become 18th overall. The logistics industry was “fascinated [by] the implications of its emergence from years of international isolation,” the report said.

Of those lowest ranked in the index, most were experiencing some form of conflict or unrest the report noted.

The index ranked countries based on markers indicating market growth, accessibility, stability and connectedness, among other things.

Top five emerging economies for logistics:

1. China

2. India

3. UAE

4. Malaysia

5. Saudi Arabia

Five worse emerging economies:

1. Mozambique

2. Angola

3. Myanmar

4. Lebanon

5. Libya

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