Logistics may sound like an area of business that small businesses don’t have to worry about. But, in fact, with more and more small businesses looking for ways to expand their each globally, logistics technology and policy will impact both small and large businesses.
Access Magazine, FedEx’s trade publication for everything logistics-related, has recently released a list of the most important logistics trends shaping global commerce today.
Here are the top 20 policies, places and ideas set to change the world of business in 2013:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
This huge trade negotiation involves the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Singapore and could potentially be extended to include South Korea, China and all of the Asia-Pacific region. These negotiations will set the rules for international trade and investment among the participating nations.
The FTA Tariff Tool (export.gov/fta/ftatarifftool)
For the first time ever, tariff and trade data for the U.S. have been combined into an online tool. You can use it to see how specific products will be treated under U.S. and FTA partner tariffs and check to see when certain products will be duty-free.
"Logistics Clusters," the new book by MIT professor Yossi Sheffi, explains why some cities have succeeded as transportation and economic hubs where others have failed. Sheffi lays out a policy for promoting localized job growth of untrained workers to ignite logistics-cluster development.
China’s future megacity
China plans on merging nine cities in its Guangdong province to create what will be the world’s largest city. The “Turn the Pearl River Delta Into One” initiative involves 150 major infrastructure projects to join manufacturing hotbeds such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen by 2018.
According to a 2012 survey, Germany surpasses Hong Kong for its excellent infrastructure planning and engineering. Munich, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt all scored well in the Mercer study in categories such as availability of water, traffic congestion and access to airports.
International Services Agreement (ISA)
This year, members of the European Union plan to meet with Japan, the U.S. and 18 other nations to negotiate a new international services agreement. The negotiation will remove barriers to services such as telecoms, insurance, software and finance, which are vital components for manufacturing goods.
High-Speed Rail (HSR)
China and the United Kingdom, as well as 17 of the countries that lie in between them, are currently negotiating to build the world’s largest high-speed railway system. Parts of the system are already up and running, but the nations involved hope to finish the project by 2022.
Self-driving cars are already legal in California, with Audi and Toyota both recently putting Web-controlled cars on the market. Improvements in automotive technology are expected to reduce the costs associated with traffic congestion in the U.S. significantly over the next several years.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. have developed an algorithm that uses tracking data from your and your friends’ smartphones to predict where you will be in 24 hours. The average error is just 65 feet.
The study of the year
A study from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business quantifies the positive impact U.S.-based multinationals have on the domestic economy. “American Companies and Global Supply Networks” by Matthew Slaughter suggests that companies expanding overseas invest more, not less, in domestic hiring and research and development.
Sites like svpply.com, shopstyle.com, flit.com and polyvore.com are making good taste mainstream by bringing online consumers together with previously hard-to-find goods. This curated, community-driven way of shopping has been working wonders for online apparel retailers, but will likely expand to new markets in 2013.