China’s retaliation in response to the US’ trade war with Beijing has been hitting the news hard this week. The newly introduced tariffs on imported goods are already inflating tempers, with further sanctions to be introduced come 2019 if tensions aren’t resolved. There is a real risk of this action backfiring, as savvy businesses in China’s manufacturing hub, Pearl River Delta, have already been taking action to cut their costs and increase the quality of products they are producing. Given China’s already prominent positioning in terms of workforce numbers and technology adoption, some businesses have used this opportunity to further streamline their processes, decreasing costs in the interim. The outlook is turbulent, which is worrying for the supply chain, which has already been impacted by increased shipping rates. There are also accusations of dodgy dealing, such as reports that American lobster is being transported to Canada, and shipped as a Canadian product in order to avoid current sanctions.
Back on US soil, it’s been reported that the top five trucking markets in the US currently hold a massive 18% of the country’s domestic load volume; this, despite the increasing shortage of drivers which has been hitting the news. According to the American Trucking Association, there is a current shortfall of approximately 50,000 drivers. The aging population within the current workforce is very real in an industry which has been – as the New York Times framed it – ‘historically reliant on older, white male drivers’. There have been a number of attempts to tackle the shortage.
Despite these problems, outlooks for the logistics industry remain optimistic. There is no mistake that the US economy remains strong, along with reports of rising wages across the sector – good news, in light of current staff shortages. Industry giants such as XPO are reporting huge rises in e-commerce, which in turn is driving an increase in their seasonal job offerings from the same period in 2017.