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Logistics industry optimism for emerging markets

BAAR, Switzerland: January 22, 2018. Emerging markets have ignored growing populism in the U.S. and parts of Europe to "look brighter than they have in years" according to a survey of logistics industry executives by Agility Logistics.

Agility's latest survey of more than 500 supply chain industry professionals for its annual Emerging Markets Logistics Index suggest nearly two-thirds agree with an IMF forecast of 4.8 - 4.9 percent GDP growth in 2018.

This marks the fastest expansion since 2013 and a second consecutive year of higher growth for the sector since a gain of 7.4 percent in 2010.

The Index, now in its ninth year, ranks 50 emerging markets countries by size, infrastructure, transport connections and business climate - factors that are attractive to logistics providers, freight forwarders, shipping lines, air cargo carriers and distributors.

agility survey 2018Fifty-five percent of executives surveyed say small and medium-sized businesses – those with fewer than 250 employees – will benefit most from emerging markets growth.

"The logistics industry's optimism comes as a relief. A year ago, there was great concern that populism in the United States and Europe were (sic) going to hurt trade and damage emerging markets economies," commented Essa Al-Saleh, CEO of Agility Global Integrated Logistics. "In 2018, we are looking at renewed growth overall, although it is likely to be very uneven from region to region and country to country."

Survey highlights include:

  • China and India top the 2018 rankings and put more distance between themselves and the UAE, No.3 on the Index. Russia climbs three spots to No. 7, an indication its economy is stabilizing after years of low energy prices, capital flight and U.S. economic sanctions. Brazil, struggling to emerge from political turmoil and its worst recession in a century, slips two places to No. 9.
  • Industry executives can't agree on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. As the U.S., Mexico and Canada negotiate an update, logistics executives are split about whether a new pact would help Mexico (24.3 percent); hurt Mexico (21.8 percent); or leave trade unchanged (25.7 percent).
  • Egypt jumps six places to No. 14 - the largest increase by any country in the 2018 Index - and 26 positions to No. 21 in the separate category that ranks countries' business conditions. Bangladesh (No. 23) and Uruguay (No. 25) both move up four spots in the overall rankings.
  • Despite its historic potential, Nigeria falls to No. 31 from No. 24 a year ago as it ranks next-to-last in infrastructure and market connectedness and No. 46 in business climate. Also falling: Venezuela at No. 48 overall and last in market size and growth attractiveness; and Kazakhstan that drops six places despite a resumption in economic growth and the announcement of a long-term development blueprint.
  • Logistics executives appear unconcerned that emerging market economies will be harmed by Britain's exit from the European Union. Nearly 45 percent say they will be unaffected while 25.4 percent say they could gain as a result of expanded market access. This compares to a year ago when nearly 69 percent of respondents expressed concern that Brexit and the prospective failure of several multilateral initiatives would be a threat to trade growth.

"It's refreshing that the [logistics] industry sees small and medium-sized businesses as the ones getting the most out of emerging markets growth," Al-Saleh added. "In large part, that's because SMEs are finally getting access to new technology and tools to improve their competitiveness and find new markets – a belated but very welcome development."

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