The year 2016 has had a few surprises in store for us, but also interesting opportunities. Time is relative – we feel as though we are still right in the middle, when the year is actually already slowly coming to an end. But we can safely say – without any exaggeration – that 2016 really was a turbulent year full or surprises. Hardly anyone seriously expected the British majority to vote in favour of exiting the EU. And the long-term effects of Brexit cannot yet be foreseen. But we have to expect that transportation to and from the UK will become more complicated in the future. European free trade has been struck a serious blow by Brexit, which can hardly be compensated by the considerations of some companies to relocate their corporate headquarters to mainland Europe. And market uncertainty is also being fuelled by the signals regarding free trade coming from across the Atlantic. Donald Trump, whose election was the second political mega-surprise of 2016, seems to be counting on a policy of isolation. TTIP is on hold, other international trade agreements may be revoked.
So what does this mean for us as an international logistics provider? And above all, what does this mean for our customers, who rely on the smooth transport of their goods? In future, they will have to rely even more on the expertise of their logistics partner. And what about us? We have to anticipate possible problems that might arise in international freight even more than before, and develop solutions that work for our customers. But of course 2016 was not only defined by potential problem areas. It also provided new opportunities and opened up new markets. For example Iran: After the end of the sanctions, exciting opportunities can be seen here for European companies. And this is where we take on the role of bridge builder: In Frankfurt and Istanbul, we have set up special competence centers. Our experts assist companies in exporting their quality products to the region. In addition, we are now working together with an experienced logistics provider on location, who takes care of customs clearance and delivery in the country itself.
Another example is the increasing volume of shipments we are seeing on our intermodal connections between China and Europe. By combining the strengths of road and rail, we offer our customers real added value. And our new digital land transport marketplace enables us to bring shippers and carriers together in Europe. We have been in the testing phase since September and are working flat out to optimize the platform before it is made available to all market participants in January 2017. It will enable us to fundamentally change the logistics market and to push ahead the digitalization of the logistics industry. Standstill is simply not a good condition in logistics, which is why we are constantly developing ourselves. We are currently working on Europe-wide customer service in order to maintain an equally high level of consulting in all countries for all customers. And in order to really know where our customers are feeling the pinch and which new issues we have to address together with them in 2017, we will again start our annual customer survey at the beginning of next year. I’m already looking forward to the input. But those who work hard also deserve some time off – which is true for our customers as well as for us at DHL Freight. I therefore wish you and us a quiet, peaceful holiday season, Merry Christmas, and happiness and health throughout the New Year.