Global Trade Growth Slowdown a Wake-up Call for Nations

Global trade growth has slipped to its slowest rate since the 2009 financial crisis, sparking concerns for jobs and economic growth.

global trade

The World Trade Organisation has released figures showing that global growth has fallen to 1.7 per cent in 2016. This is well below the forecast 2.8 per cent growth in GDP outlined by the WTO at the beginning of the year.

It’s expected global GDP growth will remain around 2.2 per cent for 2016, which would represent the lowest figure since the financial crisis in 2009.

The slowdown in growth has been driven by a sharp decline in merchandise trade volumes. These fell in Quarter 1, and then didn’t rebound as expected to the middle of the year.

On top of this, the WTO has also revised its 2017 forecasts downwards, from 3.6 per cent, to between 1.8 and 3.1 per cent.

Decelerating Global Trade & Growth

Falling global trade and growth is also in part due to slow growth and performance in major world economies, such as China and Brazil.

North American growth, the strongest in the world in 2014-15, has also slowed. A reduction on imports into the USA has been partly to blame for this.

The volatility in the global economy, as well as a backdrop of increasing uncertainty, has been a major consideration for many countries in their trade.

Disagreements over global trade partnerships, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, have not helped the situation. Both US Presidential candidates oppose the agreement, and have stated they will end US involvement in it after November’s election.

The WTO have also warned that uncertainty around the UK’s ongoing relationship with the EU following June’s Brexit vote may lead to even slower growth in coming years.

Protectionism Hurting Growth

After an extensive period of global trade growth through globalisation, many countries are now looking to pull both manufacturing and supply chains back within their borders.

A separate report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlighted the role of protectionism in the slowdown. While tariffs on trade are regulated by the WTO, other measures, such as reducing quotas and increasing subsidies for in-country manufacturing, can be used to reduce exports.

This then has a knock-on effect on global trade volumes, and can inhibit development of global supply chains.

Roberto Azevedo, the WTO’s director-general, said, “The dramatic slowing of trade growth is serious and should serve as a wake-up call. It is particularly concerning in the context of growing anti-globalisation sentiment. We need to make sure that this does not translate into misguided policies that could make the situation much worse.”

Job and Economic Growth Risk

The global slowdown in trade has also raised concerns about job creation, and general health of the world economy. Both economic growth and job creation have long been linked to open trade.

Efforts to re-shore manufacturing and supply chains have an impact on global employment. Though it must be said that many organisation are seeing economic benefits from bringing manufacturing back in-house. These benefits are passed on to the both the local and national economies in turn.

However, for many developing countries and smaller companies, the slowdown in trade will hit harder. Roberto Azevedo called on countries to “heed the lessons of history“, and re-commit to open trading to boost economic growth.

Though some positive signs have been seen in the past month or so, the uncertainty remains. The US Presidential Election could fundamentally change the way one of the world’s largest economies interacts with the rest of the world.

And with other major economies not showing signs of quick recovery, it remains to be seen when or if the global slowdown will be arrested.

What are you seeing in relation to global trade in procurement? Is your supply chain suffering from the slowdown? Let us know below.

We’ve taken time out from getting you fit with Career Boot Camp to check out the top headlines this week. 

Activists Block Palm Oil Operations

  • Greenpeace activists are blockading operations of IOI, one of the world’s biggest producers and traders of palm oil.
  • A group of ten people, including two Indonesian farmers affected by forest fires related to palm oil operations, are blocking access to IOI’s refinery in Rotterdam.
  • The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is also preventing palm oil from being unloaded from incoming tankers.
  • Greenpeace is demanding that IOI commits to a sustainable palm oil supply chain before they lift the blockade.

Read more at Maritime Executive

US Craft Beer Brewers Outpace Supply Chain

  • US hops farmers are struggling to fulfil orders for a rapidly growing number of craft breweries,
  • The industry has doubled in size over the past five years, as consumers look to smaller companies for their beer.
  • Farmland devoted to varieties of hops has increased by 65 per cent in the same period. However, the number of small customers makes it difficult for farmers to keep up with demand.
  • As a result, production has slowed for the first time after several years of rapid growth.  

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Inquiry Launched Into UK Defence Procurement

  • An inquiry into the UK’s military acquisition and procurement policy has been launched by the House of Commons Defence Committee.
  • The review was prompted by a report published last year by think-tank Civitas that argued for an overhaul of the MOD’s acquisition process.
  • The committee’s inquiry will look into whether emerging acquisition systems are offering value for money.
  • It will also look at the implication of Brexit will have on the UK’s defence industry.

Read more at Supply Management

Silicon Valley Alive to Truck Potential

  • Silicon Valley tech organisations are looking more closely at why trucks have jumped ahead of cars in driverless technology.
  • Software companies are also looking at the technologies that could be used in passenger cars in future.
  • Uber demonstrated its interest in lorries when it announced the acquisition of Otto, a start-up focused on self-driving technology for trucks.
  • It has been argued that such technology is used on commercial vehicles first, as there is potential for faster ROI.

Read more on The Financial Times

Only 24 Hours in a Day – Manage Your Time Wisely

Time. The one thing we could all do with more of, but relentlessly slips past. Are you spending your day wisely?

time-managementTick, tock, tick, tock. The seconds tick past, even while you’re reading this article on using your day efficiently. Have you allowed for some personal development in your day? Or are there more important things you need to be doing?

There are 24 hours in a day, but it never seems to be enough for busy people. To achieve what we want to in a day, we have to become better at managing our time. It is possible to find more time in a day, or even in an hour, if you put in place some simple strategies.

Here are 7 tips for getting more done in your working day.

  1. Work to your full potential

Do you notice how you accomplish more in a few days before you’re due to head off on annual leave than what you do in the weeks prior?

This is because you’re driven to complete the tasks in time. You’re fully engaged and focused on the tasks at hand. Putting the same energy into your work every day will achieve a major boost to your productivity.

To do this, forget time-wasting activities like checking your emails and social media accounts constantly throughout the day. Turn off your phone, where possible. Scheduling large chunks of the day to the major tasks you have to complete and eliminating distractions will enable you to fully concentrate on the job at hand.

You’re more likely to finish the work in far less time than it usually takes.

  1. Complete your most important task first

Sounds simple but we can easily fall into the trap of putting off the most crucial task of the entire day. As more emails, phone messages and issues crop up, it becomes even more difficult to tackle that important task.

Instead, make it your top priority. Put it first and complete it. That way, you’ll accomplish an important task each and every day. You’ll never have an unproductive day again.

  1. Plan your work

Keep a diary or to-do list, either on paper or in digital form such as an app, which allows you to map out your work day.

Prioritise your tasks for the day and schedule the time it will take you to complete them. Schedule in a time slot to get on top of your emails and messages and stick to it. Disconnect from emails and phone calls at all other times.

This way, you won’t be letting emails and phone calls cut into the time you’ve allocated for the work that you want to complete. Keep your to-do list up-to-date – cross off your tasks as you complete them and add new tasks as they arise. You’ll be able to see progress in your productivity and remain organised.

  1. Delegate

Delegating tasks is not a sign of weakness. The reality is that one person cannot achieve everything. Consider where you can use your employees’ capabilities and skills to your advantage. Delegate more and you’ll be able to focus your attention on other important goals.

  1. Leave time for yourself

You’ll be far more effective in your work if you also schedule in time for yourself on a regular basis – whether it’s going out for coffee or lunch or ensuring that you get to an exercise class or another personal commitment.

Block out that personal time as if it were a business appointment. The productivity of your business depends on it.

  1. Have an accountability buddy

Someone you check in with who is able to ask the hard questions on whether you’re meeting your own targets can be hugely useful. This could be an executive coach or someone you work with, for example.

  1. Use a time tracking tool

It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re swamped with work. Consider using a time tracking tool, which can ensure you know exactly how long you spend on a task.

Check out Toggl, for example. But don’t fall victim to irony in this respect and spend too much time marking how long you’re spending on things. It’s a guide, not a military operation.

Big Ideas Summit 2016: Big Idea #16 – Everyone Can Contribute

You might not be a “Game Changer”, but you, and everyone else, can contribute to the success of an organisation.

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, we challenged our thought leaders to share their Big Ideas for the future of procurement.

From ideas that have the potential to change the very nature of the procurement profession, to ones that got the assembled minds thinking about the profession’s impact outside of the organisation, the response we received was amazing.

Everyone Can Contribute

Nathan Ott, CEO e.g.1 Ltd and Director at The GC Index Ltd, argues that while not everyone is a ‘Game Changer’, everyone is capable of making a game-changing contribution, from the top to the bottom of the organisation.

However, in order to do this, organisations need to create a culture where it is safe to fail, and these ‘Game Changers’ are not seen as disruptive, pigeon-holed, or made to conform. Only by doing this can organisations create real step change.

Catch up with all the delegates’ Big Ideas from the 2016 Summit at the Procurious Learning Hub.

Want to find out more about Big Ideas 2016? And maybe what we have planned for 2017? You can visit our dedicated website!

Contribute to Change

If you enjoyed Nathan’s Big Idea and you want to hear more from him, then you’re in luck! Nathan is one of the career coaches for the Procurious Career Boot Camp.

Coming on Monday, on Day 11 of Career Boot Camp, Nathan discusses how each and every procurement professional can make a disproportionate difference.

If you’ve missed the other podcasts, then all is not lost. Enlist here, and you can catch up on topics from becoming a CPO, to taking your conscience to work.

If you like this (and you haven’t done so already) join Procurious for free today. Get connected with over 17,000 like-minded procurement professionals from across the world.