In the first instance, such a concept is frightening, often triggering an irrational defense reflex against all things global. This can currently be witnessed first-hand in light of the highly controversial discussions on the proposed free trade agreement (TTIP) between the USA and the EU.
The opportunities afforded by the largest free trade zone in the world and the resulting opportunities for increased growth and innovation that would open up to approx. 800 million people on both sides of the Atlantic are receding in the midst of tussles over the specifics of differing standards.
Only together will we be able to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. The recent APEC CEO summit, which ran from November 8-10, 2014, in Peking, has only strengthened my conviction in this regard. Participants from Asia and further afield came together to discuss the current and future international economic situation at this event which was organized around the theme of “New Vision for Asia Pacific: Creativity, Connectivity, Integration, Prosperity.” I, myself, took part in a panel discussion on the topic of “Looking beyond business as usual” and was struck by the strong will for transnational and transregional cooperation.
One thing is abundantly clear – the better we are networked, the more we can learn from one another and, through such an exchange of knowledge and goods, improve the opportunities available to the broader populace.
All parents share a common dream for their children – that of a better tomorrow. They hope that their children will grow up in a safer and healthier environment where there is no want. Security, health, sustenance and education are basic human rights – and satisfying them is largely dependent on good infrastructure and good connectivity. The findings of our current DHL Global Connectedness Index 2014 clearly illustrate that the most networked countries and regions in the world have opened their borders to allow the free flow of goods and services, capital, information and labor. And it is precisely this exchange that forms the foundation of long-term growth and prosperity.
Striking correlations can be seen in international comparison. Where a country has twice the GDP per capita of another country, its global connectivity also tends to be more than five points higher. For me, this is further proof point that being highly connected as a country has a fundamentally positive impact on the standard of living of a nation’s citizens.
Europe is best connected region in the world. Nine out of the ten most highly connected countries globally can be found in Europe, with the Netherlands taking the No.1 spot. But this is no reason for Europe to rest on its laurels.
Power, prosperity and growth are clearly shifting towards Asia
The APEC CEO Summit 2014 showed beyond doubt that power, prosperity and growth are clearly shifting towards Asia – on both a political and economic level. In terms of international connectivity, the East Asia and Pacific region is now ranked third globally, with the second highest rate of inter-regional exchange.
The 21 member states of APEC are aiming to establish a common free trade zone by 2020. This would represent the free flow of trade and exchange between approx. 2.5 billion people. And in this regard, Asia will certainly be able to learn much from the successful model of the European Union. Even though many European countries are currently struggling with major economic difficulties, the Single Market continues to guarantee a common commitment to freedom and peace in the region.
If, however, we genuinely wish to fully leverage the opportunities of increasing digitalization and booming e-commerce, our energies must be increasingly focused beyond these regional borders. Good logistics networks, and the efficient infrastructure they entail, are an important lever as they represent the arteries that facilitate international development.
Protectionist tendencies would take us down the wrong path
Without functioning logistics networks, a good supply of a population with all that is needed becomes impossible. According to UN projections our planet will be home to more than 9 billion people by the year 2050: Over two billion more people than today. These people will want to and should be able to exchange. And this will require free trade, good infrastructure and common standards. Here, too, the imperative to decouple growth and transport will only increase.
Gatherings such as the APEC CEO Summit are excellent opportunities to exchange ideas about this and numerous other questions for the future. Protectionist tendencies and the (re)construction of barriers would take us down the wrong path entirely. Instead, we need the courage to move towards establishing increased openness and shared common ground. As a logistics provider, Deutsche Post DHL is only too happy to play its part when it comes to connecting people and markets. This concept is integral to our corporate identity and we are proud to make an active contribution to increased integration and prosperity on a daily basis.