"The wheels of globalization cannot be turned back!"

Interview with BWVL-President Jochen Quick: Global free trade has moved into the sights of isolationists, but the logistics industry requires stable framework conditions

[Phto: BWVL]
[Phto: BWVL]

An open general election, European directives, diesel restrictions and the trade policies of President Donald Trump – many areas of logistics are currently in turmoil. Nevertheless, the President of the Federal Association of Economics, Transport and Logistics (Bundesverband Wirtschaft, Verkehr und Logistik e.V.), Jochen Quick, took the time for an interview with DHL Freight Connections.

Opinion pollsters again see an open race in the coming Federal Elections in September. Whether Schulz or Merkel – what do you expect from the next Federal Government in the field of logistics?

Democracy thrives on the competition of different policy approaches. This is the positive aspect of the nomination of Martin Schulz as a Chancellor candidate. Regardless of the outcome of the elections in September, we, as a transport economy, need reliable framework conditions in the long run. This also includes a further increase and consolidation of investments in infrastructure at a high level. Only sustainable financing by the next Federal Government will secure a permanent modernization and needs-based development of infrastructure, both analogue as well as digital.

EU Transport Commissioner Violetta Bulc has now announced the presentation of her repeatedly postponed proposals for fair road freight in May. In your opinion, what should the priorities be?

Whether the paper will actually be published at the end of May still remains to be seen. The Commission will surely set priorities in the areas of market access and access to the profession, as well as with regard to social issues. In my opinion, the main objective should be the clarification of existing regulations. Cabotage is certainly a good example. This is where we need clear and, above all, controllable rules and regulations.

The likelihood of driving bans for diesel vehicles in German city centers is growing. What impact would this have on logistics?

A ban on diesel vehicles, and be it only partially in some cities, would have lasting negative effects on logistics! In addition to the clearly ever more difficult organization of the last mile, the level of prices for transport services would rise sharply. The introduction of the blue sticker could again be averted with the support of the logistics associations. We can see a specific field of tension between fine dust emissions and climate protection. Ultimately, it is a social question as to how we want to deliver goods to our inner cities. Drones will not be able to take care of that!

In your opinion, how well is the German logistics industry prepared for the increasing digitalization?

This is a difficult question and unfortunately cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. In order to keep up on an international level, digitalization is rapidly advancing along the entire supply chain. However, as of today, we are still far from being able to reach our objectives with regards to the buzzwords Industry 4.0 or Logistics 4.0. We must all – and that certainly includes myself too – concern ourselves even more with the topic of digitalization.

US President Donald Trump does actually seem to be trying to turn back the wheels of globalization. What impact on the German logistics industry do you expect from that?

First of all, I do not think that the wheels of globalization can simply be turned back. There is a mutual dependency between the major economic powers and I think the American President is only just beginning to understand that. All unilateral actions by the United States, to help dampen the effects of globalization in their own country, will ultimately have a very negative effect on the American economy. Nevertheless, we must take seriously the signals coming from the new US Administration and prepare ourselves for a much more complicated future. This of course also applies to the logistics industry.

Author: Kai Ortmann

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