• Anwar Zibaoui
  • General Coordinator, ASCAME

Article translated from Spanish to English. Originally posted in El Nacional.

Geopolitical instability in Europe and trade tensions between the US and China seem to have overshadowed the impact of COVID-19 on global trade. And yet, the lessons of the pandemic remain. Supply chains must be streamlined to overcome the challenges, control of logistics flow is key to global economic security, and the free flow of goods depends critically on stable relationships and the avoidance of mistrust between countries.

The logistics sector is an integral part of every business and a lever for growth and competitiveness. Efficient logistics models are key to develop the economy and reduce costs in export, import and distribution.

Logistics is a $4.3 trillion industry that affects almost every country in the world, and maintains the network of services that support the physical movement of goods within and across borders. It encompasses a variety of activities including transportation, warehousing, brokerage, express delivery, terminal operations or data and information management. The efficiency with which goods can move through these systems to their final destinations is a key factor in a country’s trade opportunities.

In this new dynamic, China is beginning to exert greater influence on global trade, since the launch of its New Silk Road, a multi-billion dollar initiative aimed at reshaping intercontinental trade through a new network of maritime and land connections between Asia, Europe and Africa, based on the old trade routes.

The sector faces several challenges, notably digitalisation, energy dependency and sustainability. The smart logistics sector is expected to reach USD 46.2 billion by 2025, with an annual growth rate of 11%. Moreover, 23% of CO2 emissions are attributed to transport, so it is critical to drive strategies to improve supply chains and decarbonisation.

Adequate, modern and well-managed transport infrastructure and an efficient supply chain are essential in the Mediterranean to facilitate trade and competitiveness. A strategic vision shared by public and private actors is needed. A sustainable and planned organisational approach to the territory, articulated with a new industrial policy refocused on European, Mediterranean and African exchanges.

The strategic location of the Mediterranean is unique in facilitating global trade and logistics, but its economic potential must be unlocked. A commitment to integration and the construction of a unified strategy to encourage investment is needed. The moment is crucial: Europe and the Mediterranean are facing new balances of power beyond their political, economic or military reach and must react with a shared vision.

Barcelona, due to its geographical location, capacity and infrastructures, can consolidate its position as a major platform for the logistics sector if it prepares itself for the challenges that lie ahead. The commitment to infrastructures must be a priority, especially the Mediterranean corridor, and the creation of more efficient logistics networks and services.

It is possible to transform Barcelona into a logistics centre that balances global integration and local responsiveness. To turn the city into a model that serves both international and regional organisations and large multinational companies as a headquarters and natural base to cover or expand into neighbouring markets and as a hub for the whole Mediterranean region.

Geopolitical tensions are challenging, but in some ways, they will always exist. Mediterranean countries can protect their economies and generate prosperity with a shared vision and strategy. The logistics sector makes this all possible.