It made complete sense for us to introduce a dedicated magazine for the US market. As mentioned in our Foreword, over 45% of our current readership is based in the States. FORWARDER USA will provide a further tailored market overview for our readers across the Atlantic. Our Digest brings you a quick-read breakdown of the hottest market topics for US commerce, along with our overviews of the previous quarter.
By the time this magazine is in your hands, we will know more of China’s inevitable retaliation in response to the US’ trade war with Beijing. The newly introduced tariffs on imported goods are already inflating tempers, with further sanctions to be introduced come 2019 if tensions aren’t resolved. There is a real risk of this action backfiring, as savvy businesses in China’s manufacturing Pearl River Delta have already been taking action to cut their costs and increase the quality of products they are producing. Given China’s already prominent positioning in terms of workforce numbers and technology adoption, some businesses have used this opportunity to further streamline their processes, decreasing costs in the interim. The outlook is turbulent, which is worrying for the supply chain, who have already been impacted by increased shipping rates. There are also accusations of dodgy dealing, such as reports that American lobster is being transported to Canada, and shipped as a Canadian product in order to avoid current sanctions.
Back on US soil, it’s been reported that the top five trucking markets in the US currently hold a massive 18% of the country’s domestic load volume; this, despite the increasing shortage of drivers which has been hitting the news. According to the American Trucking Association, there is a current shortfall of approximately 50,000 drivers. The aging population within the current workforce is very real in an industry which has been – as the New York Times framed it – ‘historically reliant on older, white male drivers’. There have been a number of attempts to tackle the shortage, which will be explored in more depth in the magazine.
Despite these problems, outlooks for the logistics industry remain optimistic. There is no mistake that the US economy remains strong, along with reports of rising wages across the sector – good news, in light of current staff shortages. Industry giants such as XPO are reporting huge rises in e-commerce, which in turn is driving an increase in their seasonal job offerings from the same period in 2017.
In FORWARDER magazine, we have been following the adoption of technology within the logistics industry since our launch. Emerging tech is being taken up in higher frequencies, essential in such a rapidly expanding market. There will always be those with opposing views, particularly when considering an industry where personability and connections have long been a business driver, however attitudes in North America in particular are welcoming to this tech revolution. Ultimately, digitalisation within logistics is non-negotiable. The earliest adopters will have the strongest market position, as routine processes are quickly automated. The rise of e-commerce only pushes this need for disruption further. One thing that has been notably absent from much of the conversation is security – is this something which logistics companies are addressing in the midst of their rush to digitalize?
Finally, a special mention for this edition’s cover feature. This column is consistently one of our most popular features, providing an in-depth interview with an industry figurehead. These Q&As highlight an individual and their company, and is just one example of the way FORWARDER provides a platform for voices across the industry. This edition features Craig Headford, with over 35 years of experience in the industry, he’ll be presenting his position on the digitalisation of the shipping industry (spoiler alert: he has just launched a revolutionary, digital shipping comparison tool).
Watch this space in Q1 when we discuss America-China relations, along with reports from Q4 of 2018.
Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine