TIACA’s Vice Chairman Steven Polmans – Reflections from WCS 2019

TIACA’s Vice Chairman Steven Polmans – Reflections from WCS 2019

The 2019 IATA World Cargo Symposium was with over 1300 delegates again a great place to meet industry peers, network and hear on the latest what is happening in or affecting our industry. Many TIACA members and board members were present, and it was a pleasure and honour for me as Vice Chairman of TIACA to contribute to one of the panels discussing Global Trade in the world.

As an industry, our future is very much linked to international trade and business. A lot of uncertainties such as Brexit, nationalistic protection rules, resistance to new Trade Agreements are a threat to further growth. Brian Pierce, chief economist and one of my panel members, in the morning already showed an interesting slide showing that since a few years, international trade globally was no longer growing but stagnating. And this for the first time since long. Chin Yau Seng, Senior Vice President Cargo, and also on the panel shared his concern that volume and capacity growth might not evolve in the same direction or at the same pace, resulting in increasing pressure on yields. Especially for full freighter operation this might have a serious impact.

But not everything is negative and although the year did not start too well as far as cargo volumes are concerned, there is also room for some optimism. E-commerce continues to grow strong and offers opportunities for our industry and GDP growth is lower but still there. IATA’s forecasting is therefore rather neutral for this year, but a bit more positive already for next year. And when it (traditionally) comes to the questions what we want for our industry in the next 5 years, not surprisingly innovation and especially digitisation were mentioned. But at the same time, there was a common understanding that a lot of projects and initiatives are being taken by companies, organisation and groups all over the world. Many of us have understood that waiting for the “big standard” before we start moving is not the way forward. And finally, more and stronger collaboration are needed to face the challenges ahead of us. As an industry, will need to do more and work as a (logistical) chain rather than just as a part of that chain. Solutions are solved by working together and understanding the needs of our fellow industry members. Closing our eyes for problems and just handing them over to the next partner is making us as an industry inefficient and creating unnecessary costs.

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