Covid has been described as a 'once in a generation disruption' for the freight forwarding market © Getty Images
Covid has been described as a 'once in a generation disruption' for the freight forwarding market © Getty Images

Covid means end of globalisation, say shippers

29 October 2020

Two-fifths (39%) of logistics professionals believe the Covid-19 crisis will lead to the end of globalisation and the re-emergence of national or local supply chains, according to a survey.

Bolloré Logistics and Transport Intelligence’s survey found 34% of respondents agreed with that statement and 5% strongly agreed – figures described as “remarkable” in the report.

A quarter (27%) disagreed with the statement and 6% strongly disagreed.

“Despite the relatively even spread of results it is remarkable that as many as 34% of respondents agree that the Covid-19 crisis will lead to the end of globalisation,” said the report.

“Although over the last few years of rising protectionism and trade wars this view has become more prevalent, this represents a significant change from the previous consensus.”

It said the figures were particularly striking as the respondents were professionals who had “witnessed the benefits of globalisation first hand”.

Meanwhile 72% of logistics professionals believed the Covid-19 crisis would have a lasting effect on the global supply chain.

When asked how the crisis would impact their supply chain strategy over the medium term, 37% said it would have a significant impact, 36% said it would be moderate and 25% said it would be slight. Only 2% believed the crisis would have no impact whatsoever.

The survey involved 422 logistics professionals throughout July and August 2020 from Europe, Asia Pacific and North America. More than half of respondents represented retail and manufacturing shippers that use air and sea forwarding services, while just under a quarter were freight forwarders.

The report described the coronavirus crisis as a “once in a generation disruption” that hit a global freight forwarding market that was already wrestling with challenges and including the US-China trade war and moves towards protectionism.

Previous research by Transport Intelligence already showed the global air and sea forwarding market contracting by 1.7% in 2019 due to weakening macroeconomic fundamentals.

Rapid digitisation has meant that freight forwarding services have become more accessible and can now be purchased in spot markets, with buyers receiving instant quotes.

More than two-thirds of respondents said they had made use of spot market freight forwarding purchases to help keep volumes moving during the pandemic.

For 27% of respondents the main driver was finding capacity in a market which had seen flights grounded and shipping reduced.

A fifth (22%) said they switched to the spot market to secure better prices as low capacity and also resulted in higher rates due to demand outstripping supply.

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