When it comes to shipping and logistics, many of the key opportunities and challenges we witnessed in 2015 are still in play today. The potential for new international trade agreements and the immense opportunities for growth in global markets are still prompting companies to reassess their logistics platforms. As companies examine their trade plans and logistics processes, they must also continue to pay close attention to the growth of mobile commerce.
The following article will look at some of the central issues we believe will define shipping and logistics this year.
New Trade Agreements Mean More Global Business
On October 5, 2015, the United States joined 11 nations in negotiating a landmark trade agreement to improve market access and facilitate key trade benefits. If ratified, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would cover more than 40% of global GDP, reduce border costs, expedite and simplify border clearance, and offer assistance to developed countries to modernize Customs procedures.
What does the TPP mean for your business in 2016? If approved by Congress, the agreement would make it faster, easier and more affordable to move goods between participating countries. U.S. companies could gain an expanded customer base, a more dynamic supply chain and new opportunities to source affordable materials from partner nations. The trade opportunities are considerable. Consider that participating countries—the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam—will be home to more than 60% of the world's middle class population by 2030, according to estimates.
The TPP is not the only major international trade agreement in the works. Looking eastward to the European Union, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could create the world's largest free trade zone. Many predict the U.S. and E.U. will move closer to completing TTIP negotiations in 2016. This agreement could affect more than 60% of global trade, harmonize many regulatory rules between the two regions, and create greater market access to an estimated 800 million consumers.
Additionally, after nearly a decade of work between Congress, two presidential administrations and the business community, the Customs Reauthorization Bill went into effect in March 2016. Also known as the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, the bill opens up new international trade opportunities for U.S. businesses of all sizes by streamlining U.S. Customs procedures, decreasing the cost to ship internationally, and strengthening trade enforcement at U.S. borders.
One of the major benefits of the new law is the reduction of the paperwork required for low-value shipments through an increase in the de minimis allowance from $200 to $800. Under this provision, all shipments of non-restricted commodities valued at less than $800 can be passed free of duties and taxes. By increasing the de minimis threshold on the value of goods that an individual can import each day, more doors open for e-commerce.
Collaborative Robots Will Transform Logistics
Used for years in manufacturing, industrial robots just have not been smart enough for logistics, with its highly complex orchestration of combinatory tasks required in warehouses and distribution centers. But with technology finally catching up with the demands of our industry, recent advances in robotics hold real promise for increasing productivity, improving service levels, reducing costs and enhancing the quality of our working lives.
Sustainability Remains at the Forefront
In 2014, 75% of S&P 500 companies published corporate sustainability reports.
Additionally, 93% of CEOs in a 2013 UN Global Compact—Accenture study called sustainability important to the success of their business. The focus on green business practices continues and will likely grow in 2016 and beyond, as companies continue to analyze the sustainability of their operations and their partners up and down the supply chain.
Why is supply chain sustainability so important? While your carbon footprint may seem well-defined, all the products that you ship and receive make the true impact more difficult to measure. A productive supply chain revolves around efficient shipping practices; businesses that want to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers should start by finding an eco-friendly shipping partner.
Efficient shipping involves multiple steps, from effective route planning to investments in green technology. Check to see what your logistics partner has done to invest in new delivery technologies.