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The relationship between transport logistics and commerce lends itself to a chicken-and-egg argument. Some might argue that without transport logistics services there would be no commerce; others would argue that without commercial activity, there would be no need for transport logistics services. Transport logistics industry veterans might argue that these two economic sectors have always been inseparable.
Those seasoned professionals repeat the same mantra: Transport logistics don’t create markets – they serve them. Transport and logistics services move raw materials to places of conversion, transfer those converted raw materials to locations where components and final products are made, and then finally transport the products to distribution centers and consumers. This represents how transport logistics services facilitate the various steps that lead to the production of goods that are moved around the world in response to consumer demand.
Yet, one can argue that economic and social developments in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates have emerged because of the multi-modal hub operations. This is because apart from having aggressive governments that fearlessly execute plans, these two countries also share the same pattern to success: Utilizing their transport logistics prowess to drive other economic sectors to progress.
The first book – Transport Logistics: PAST, PRESENT AND PREDICTIONS – provided a historical illustration of the evolution of the worldwide industry of transport logistics. Now, five years after its release, that book is available in five languages and has been sold to more than 30,000 readers. Many have expressed an interest in a companion work that addresses the importance of transport logistics services to the economic and social development of the world.
Transport Logistics: The Wheel of Commerce does just that by addressing two topics. The first is the 2008 recession and the impact of the economic downturn on transport logistics services and operations. Secondly, this book describes the importance of the transport logistics industry on the economic and social fabric through a series of examples.
The first recession of the 21st century began in late 2007 and took hold around the world throughout 2008. Five years of stock market gains were wiped away. Major financial institutions closed or were forced to merge with competitors. Millions of production and service workers around the world were laid off, and transport logistics companies sidelined equipment and employees as demand for their services fell precipitously. Globalization, the engine that brought together manufacturers and consumers scattered around the world, has been adopted by other sectors of the world’s economy, including finance and stock markets.
We examine from a transport logistics perspective how the recession evolved. The examination includes the identification of leading indicators – some economic and others transport focused – that foretold the recession, in some cases up to one year beforehand. This section of the book presents our thoughts regarding the nature of the recovery and how managers of transport logistics services will have to manage their companies in response.
The close relationship between commercial activity, economic and social development, and transport logistics services also is the focus of the book. Transport logistics services are provided across the face of the earth, on land, on the seas and in the air. Often, the provision of these services creates new opportunities and unintended consequences apart from the original project or focus.
The primary focus of the interplay between transport logistics services and the broader economic and social fabric is Africa, particularly East Africa. In addition to Ghana in West Africa, the authors illustrate this fundamental structure through an examination of projects and services in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. External factors such as project funding and the negative impact of corruption and “extra charges” are identified and discussed.
Pushing a road into an undeveloped part of Tanzania as part of the development of a gas field now means that the inhabitants have, for the first time ever, better access to the rest of their country and the world. In Ghana, our study focuses on a new farming strategy, combined with the development of inland water transport and the revitalization of what was once one of the largest railway systems in Africa. Ethiopia’s reliance on airfreight to transport its bounty of coffee, beans and flowers illustrates the value of transport services in economic and social development. In Kenya, we look at how a local entrepreneur has developed a thriving seafood export business that employs sea-based, road haulage and airfreight services. Landlocked Burundi has the potential to become a distribution hub for countries that border Lake Tanganyika, but must deal with forces outside of its control in surrounding countries. Finally, Rwanda provides the venue for examining the negative impact of corruption, including extra charges that are levied on shipments that move from East African ports to this small landlocked country.
Outside of Africa, we examine unique transport logistics services in northern Canada, southern Chile, India, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. These studies illustrate the role of transport logistics services in specific environments, and in meeting various challenges and needs. Serving mines and petroleum fields in the harsh environment of northern Canada is a major challenge for transport logistics companies. In Chile, the impact of global warming has created an opportunity for a Chilean company to move vast quantities of fresh water to other parts of the world where supplies are all but exhausted or dangerously close. Quietly, the Indian transport logistics industry, in collaboration with the Excise & Customs Service, is shedding hundreds of years of bureaucracy to serve that nation’s rapidly expanding economy. Singapore and the United Arab Emirates provide us with examples of the value of multi-modal transport hubs that have been created by vision and action, providing significant evidence about how a government-driven strategic action plan based on the implementation of world-class transport logistics services can propel other economic sectors in these two respective countries to success.
Because knowledge acquired in one place can potentially be adapted to another situation, the lessons learned in supplying the mines and fields in the Canadian Arctic can be employed in the newly discovered oil and gas fields in East Africa. Similarly, moving large quantities of fuel to those remote mines has provided the basis for a technology to move vast quantities of water. As the former Secretary-General of the United Nations recently said, the visionary leadership of places like Singapore are needed in Africa so that the nations in the oft-called “Dark Continent” can realize their goal of taking their rightful place in the world’s economy.
By creating and constantly updating efficient transport logistics systems, the developing nations of the world will be able to promote their commercial sectors. That will, in turn, lift their economic and social status.