March 2020 | News | Takeaways

Supply Chain Execs Brace for Global Slowdown

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Supply chain industry executives anticipate a recession in 2020 amid concerns about downward pressure on global trade volumes, uncertain growth prospects, and ongoing friction between the United States and China.

A recession is likely in the next 12 months, according to 64% of industry professionals surveyed for the 2020 Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index (see chart). Only 12% of the 780 respondents say a recession is unlikely.

At the same time, most logistics executives say their companies will ride out any turbulence in trade relations between the world's two largest economies. Of those with operations and investments in China, 70% say they will stay put and that their plans are unchanged despite trade tensions.

If they were to move production or sourcing from China, Vietnam and India are respondents' top places to relocate. They identify rising trade barriers as the factor most likely to hurt emerging markets growth.

The Index ranks 50 countries by factors that make them attractive to logistics providers, freight forwarders, shipping lines, air cargo carriers, and distributors. In 2020, the top 10 emerging markets are: China, India, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Mexico, Thailand, and Turkey.

China, India, and Indonesia rank highest for domestic logistics; China, India, and Mexico are at the top for international logistics; and UAE, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia have the best business fundamentals.

Despite the belief that a recession is likely, emerging markets still grew an estimated 3.7% in 2019, and the IMF projects they will grow 4.4% in 2020. What is driving growth? According to respondents, modernization of customs systems and processes (23%), increased internet penetration (18% ), modernization of logistics provider systems such as WMS and TMS (16%), and increased adoption of online payment systems (15%).

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