In the wake of President Donald Trump’s 2018 tariffs on Chinese exports and the subsequent disruptions caused by the pandemic, global supply chains faced a crisis in 2020. Ports, including major ones like Los Angeles, experienced idling freighters as terrestrial transport systems struggled to handle the cargo influx.
This upheaval led to shortages of essential goods like food and fuel even in advanced countries. The benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures plummeted to below negative US$30 per barrel in early 2020, reflecting storage shortages, evaporating demand, and tangled freight networks, reported the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported a fivefold increase in the cost of shipping a 40-foot container from Shanghai to New York, rising from US$2,325 in September 2019 to US$11,778 in September 2021.
As the pandemic hit, discussions about rethinking and fortifying supply chain systems gained momentum. Notably, the logistics industry began emphasizing value addition across the entire chain. Unlike traditional supply chains, the global value chain (GVC) involves adding value at each step, with information flow being as crucial as the physical movement of goods.
Industry leaders now recognize the necessity of diversifying supply sources globally and maintaining the capacity to swiftly shift to alternative suppliers when needed—a departure from the previous trend of centralized and streamlined supply networks.
Greening transport has also become a pivotal concern, with shipping, aviation, and land transport contributing significantly to carbon dioxide output. The post-COVID surge in logistics-related emissions has brought this issue into focus.
Hong Kong, a major logistics hub, is proactively addressing transport emissions. Chief Executive John Lee recently announced initiatives to replace traditional bunker oil with methanol fuel for ships, derived from waste biomass. The city aims to develop a comprehensive hydrogen strategy, including legislation on hydrogen production, transport, and storage by 2025. Additionally, Hong Kong plans to achieve zero vehicular emissions by 2050, with the introduction of 700 electric buses and 3,000 electric taxis by 2027.
These critical topics, including supply chain resilience and green transport, will take center stage at this year’s Asian Logistics, Maritime and Aviation Conference (ALMAC) on November 21 and 22. Organized by the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the conference, themed “Future Proofing Supply Chains: Diversification, Decarbonisation, and Digitalisation,” will provide a platform for logistics professionals to explore the evolving landscape of their industry.
ALMAC will delve into environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues, addressing challenges and opportunities in reducing carbon emissions and promoting a circular economy. Furthermore, the conference will feature discussions on revolutionary solutions, cutting-edge technologies, and the widespread application of generative AI, shedding light on the transformative impact of emerging technologies on supply chain management.