Inflation and geopolitics to weigh on global supply chain in the next 5 years

Eltrak - Cat banner ad

Inflation and geopolitical tensions are set to dominate concerns for the global supply chain over the next five years, according to a DP World study released today.

DP World surveyed dozens of freight forwarders in October. The study paints a stark picture of an industry in turbulence, with climate change and access to talent weighing heavily on business resilience and the ability to create seamless supply chains.

Stonetech banner ad
Stonetech banner ad

Some 63% of the respondents said Inflation is a main concern, while 56% cited geopolitical tensions as another major cause of concern.

The findings from the survey were showcased at the Global Freight Summit, three-day conference that brings together industry experts, leaders and innovators under one roof to share knowledge and focus on how data can improve connectivity in global supply chains.

The event was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and CEO of Emirates airline and Group and Chair of the World Logistics Passport (WLP) Global Steering Group, and attended by Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, as well as members from the Digital Freight Alliance (DFA).

This is having major ramifications for businesses. Around 10% of the respondents said they had changed the markets they do business in due to uncertainty. Indeed, these worries look set to dominate the thoughts of freight forwarders for years to come. Some 78% said they expect geopolitical tensions and inflation to remain concerns over the next five years, with two thirds (66%) of freight forwarders believing it is ‘impossible to say’ when economic disruptions will subside.

Encouragingly, many in the supply chain industry appear cautiously optimistic. Three-quarters (75%) of the respondents said they expect technology to be a significant factor in easing the current supply chain woes. In fact, more than half (56%) believe digitalisation will be the single biggest driver of efficiency, reducing bottlenecks and supporting the industry going forward. Technology will have a considerable impact on the supply chain, with three in four saying it will lead to cost savings and a greater ability to target and deliver to new customers.

But many were unclear on how to integrate technology into their industry, with a third saying they wanted to, but simply did not know how to do it. It is unsurprising then that half of the freight forwarders said they are further behind on their company’s digital transformation journey than they had hoped.

“Global supply chains are significantly impacted by the pandemic, geopolitical tensions and the looming threat of the global climate change crisis. In fact, these challenges have demonstrated that many parts of the global supply chain infrastructure are fragile. These rising concerns makes it imperative for logistics operators to come up with the tools and solutions that offer real-time visibility across the entire supply chain. This can allow trade routes to be fit for purpose, and thus facilitating a more seamless movement of trade around the globe,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World.

Mike Bhaskaran, Group Chief Operating Officer, Digital Technology at DP World, said: “The uncertainties of today’s world are making trade harder and it is increasing the disconnect at various points across the whole supply chain. The freight forwarding community must come together to act now to mitigate risk, so that we can build towards a more resilient future.

“This is why we are proud to host the first-ever Global Freight Summit here in Dubai. The event will bring together the brightest minds from the whole supply chain for discussions that will help us agree on concrete actions to solve some of the major challenges keeping the community awake at night,” he added.

Other challenges that freight forwarders are currently experiencing include rising and unpredictable freight rates, with 80% highlighting this as the biggest worry keeping them awake at night. The lack of financing options is another major issue, with 37% of those surveyed saying this has a crippling effect on their ability to deliver goods.

Interestingly, whilst the pandemic has disrupted every industry, including logistics, it has resulted in several positive benefits. A third of freight forwarders said it prompted a much-needed overhaul of their business, with 41% saying it has changed how they track cargo. Over half (54%) said it has increased pressure on management to operate more sustainably.

Source: DP World