FlyingTypers Logo
Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 21 No. 24
Thursday June 9, 2022

May Was The Month That Was

May Trade

May Was The Month That Was whilst we registered a wind of change that will dictate our future in a way that perhaps was not expected. The proclamation made by U.S. President Biden was duly published, as it is usual since 1948, and ends with these ritual words:
     In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.

     In reading the full text of the proclamation you experience a first chill when you realize that it starts like the eulogy and acquittal of globalization and continues by looking at international trade from a convinced U.S. perspective. The main concern of the President is U.S. workers and their welfare, understandably so, but this does not help you perceive the global approach that international trade requires. If it has to dictate the World Trade Month, this message needs a profoundly different tone.
     In reality the month of trade is hardly a global celebration, and such proclamation barely hits the news in Europe. Probably it is not so big in other parts of the world too: if you check the WTO, i.e. the very place that extols trade and commerce as paramount values, there is insufficient coverage of the idea of a World Trade Month on their website. But the WTO is now fully focussed on September 2022, when the annual Public Forum takes place to develop the concept of a “sustainable and inclusive recovery: ambition to action”. My impression: the times when Mr. Azevedo (the former DG) was one of the most courted speakers in the world are over. Mr. Trump torpedoed the WTO with his statements as soon as he entered the White House, and my view is that nobody should rejoice about it, but one has to admit that the minutiae of the work that the WTO requires is ill at ease with the grandeur that Trump had in mind, and it does not coincide with the concept of celebrating. At the time Trump started his campaigns, even FIATA sounded an alarm by publishing a strong public statement in favour of free trade. In more recent times the topic has been debated by the Chatham House with a view to acquiring another perspective on the issue. Fact is trade has been booming at the beginning of this decade, but it has been exploding in a rather different way than we were accustomed to in previous decades across the Y2K divide.
     One of the declarations of FIATA’s Public Statement stipulated that “losing faith in international cooperation leads to futile contemplation and sterile fire-fighting from one insurgence to another. In the end social unrest prevails and this could jeopardize peace.” Five years after this statement was made, we could say it was sadly predictive. But let us focus on the booming resurrection of free trade we have experienced in the last fifteen months, is it something we can bank on or shall we scramble again to understand where our next meal comes from? There are several elements that are conjuring a new paradigm. Whilst I do not believe in predictions about future economic and trading trends and patterns, as they seem to often change in ways nobody can actually anticipate, I think there are lessons learnt from our immediate past that we may not overlook. We are nearly out of a historic pandemic, considering we need to go back one hundred years to find anything comparable, and we just stepped into the biggest threat of a global conflict at the end of February. The horror in the territory of Ukraine has been in the news since February 24th non-stop. And yet, trade continues, even in Ukraine. Recently the first ships loaded with metal ores sailed from a devastated Mariupol.

WTO Trade Figures
To enlarge and see in detail, click here

     Let me tell you that our sector, freight forwarding, looking at 2021 has just reported the biggest increase in turnover in many years. I have personally spoken with many of our entrepreneurs at the FIATA Headquarters’ earlier last month and all confirmed 2021 has been an exceptional year. Freight forwarders, as was observed by several speakers at the hybrid Geneva event, are the most up to date trade index one could think of, in other words when forwarders thrive, international trade prospers. Some of the guys even dared predict a more than decent 2022, despite the problems with war in Europe. The atmosphere in Geneva was ecstatic, FIATA members were able to meet again face-to-face since 2019 and everyone was on high spirits. I am told the same atmosphere was felt just a few days later at the CNS in Phoenix, where many of our common friends were in the attendance.
     Let me also mention our own Italian federation: Fedespedi. President Silvia Moretto concluded her tenure in Venice on 22nd and 23rd of May by celebrating the 75th anniversary of the association with a convention bearing an expressive title: “Inspired by a world that changes”.

Ivan Petrov, Silvia Moretto and Willem van der Schalk

     Part of the celebration was a visit at the exclusive Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a jewel which is not always getting the credit it deserves, but Venice is Venice and making the list of its best attractions is challenging.
     Elsewhere, there are many other opportunities to meet this year and if you look up in the air you can see that aircraft fly again in large numbers, if not as many as in 2019, capacities are picking up again.
     Yet expecting international trade and tourism to precisely return to the same level is not realistic. Trade shows are nowhere near the frenzy we had experienced at the end of the last decade and the practice of holding hybrid events will surely continue, so my expectation is that trade shows will never return to the same level we have known in recent years, and some of us may have been thinking “thank God” . . . Clearly this calls for some thinking out of the box, perhaps by using the novel hybrid models with unexpected approaches, for example by making it possible for participants to choose how to participate on a daily basis, to suit their employment responsibilities. In my view we need a few more trade shows to crash the barrier and tell us if any or all of the usual suspects’ wandering crowds will be looking for the next ball again.
     Meanwhile, the hordes of tourists are back. Maybe they have different faces, as not all countries are recovering at the same pace, but leisure travel is picking up again and it is possible to fearlessly book a flight to your next fancy destination. Not everywhere as yet, but there is a reasonable choice. So my expectation is that it will not take long for tourism to be pushing our economies strongly again.

Ivan Petrov, Antonella Straulino and Nicolette vander Jagt

     In the trading community things are also moving. There are signs that big multinationals such as Amazon, who nearly monopolized sales in the most recent years, start showing some respite. Timid articles appeared in the news, questioning the fact that the behemoth would have excessive staff and stacks of products in search of destinations. If you connect this observation with the articles we were given to read during the pandemic, when we were locked-down and could do nothing else, but making online retailers rich, there seems to be some food for thought here. I think many could have thought that Mr. Bezos’s sassy laughter accompanying the articles reporting his skyrocketing profits were not well paired with the grieving articles reporting the pains of the people struggling with the pandemic. The Greek called this retribution “phthonos ton theon” i.e. the envy of the gods, who decide to take away from those who had been exceedingly successful part of their triumph, considered excessive. Probably a company with Amazon’s spine will manage to cover the cracks on the wall soon, but we have to register the fact that something has changed for no apparent reason.
     On the other hand, even in Europe and in America many countries’ GDP’s are rapidly climbing to proportions we used to observe in South East Asia only: there must be something moving in the boxes if imports and exports are soaring . . . Leaving Ukraine out of the picture for a fraction, the only shadow in this portrait is inflation, and Jason Furman sends a warning in his article featured by the Group of Thirty. We learnt our lessons in the 1970’s on how devastating inflation can be, but in my opinion today’s markets move at a different speed and the trend can probably be curbed faster than in the past.
     Our society is also dealing with new and unexpected trends in the way people grade their priorities: both sides of the Atlantic large numbers of employed individuals have left or consider leaving their jobs as the myth of a “steady job”, as the Beatles would cite, no longer exists. Younger women and men seem to understand that their job is just another variable in the image of development and they seem to grasp the concept faster and more comprehensively than their employers, who actually ignited the process. We also hear the approach to work is changing that in China and Japan at a pace, and this is a totally new feature. Nobody knows how fast and deep this change will cut. Clearly these consequences do not merely reverberate in this generation’s own personal life. They actually start changing the landscape of “bigger, better, smarter” that we have been accustomed to for such a long time. Perhaps it is just the beginning, perhaps it is not, time will tell and those who can read these changing stars will have a much clearer route crossing their charts.
     When I was in South Africa for the FIATA WC 2004, we went to one of the natural parks and the group was advancing on a four-wheeler through the bushes. There were many trails and we were on one of them watching for wildlife, when all of a sudden a striped equine crossed our path. One of the guests said: “it’s a zebra crossing.” That’s it . . .
     We are all of a sudden at crossroads and those who are cool enough to understand the way forward will have their day, and chances are they could be more careful and considerate than we have been.
Marco L. Sorgetti

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
Access complete issue by clicking on issue icon or
Access specific articles by clicking on article title

Vol. 21 No. 21
Sullivan & Hughes At FIATA
Chuckles for May 24, 2022
Life Goes Down To Zero

Vol. 21 No. 22
Amar Is The Phoenix At CNS
Chuckles for May 25, 2022
Memorial Day 2022

Vol. 21 No. 23
Bharat Thakkar Heart Passion & Wisdom
Another Opening Another Show
ATC Hosts VIP Lounge
Ram & Des in 2022

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend

Send comments and news to geoffrey@aircargonews.com
Opinions and comments expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher but remain solely those of the author(s).
Air Cargo News FlyingTypers reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and content. All photos and written material submitted to this publication become the property of All Cargo Media.
All Cargo Media, Publishers of Air Cargo News Digital and FlyingTypers. Copyright ©2022 ACM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
More@ www.aircargonews.com

recycle100% Green