Dubai: China’s got its ‘Silk Road’ that aims to connect continents and economies for the free flow of goods and services.
And Dubai has its ‘World Logistics Passport’ initiative, with the aim to handle a sizable portion of future global trade with Dubai playing the hub point. In fact, there are clear targets the WLP has set for itself – have direct access to more than 20 markets that combined represent 54 per cent of global GDP.
WLP wants to bring on board global manufacturers and logistics operators onto this platform and route their supplies via Dubai to whichever end destination they choose. In the process, WLP promoters are promising significant time gains on the delivery side – days or weeks when it comes to sea and hours when done by air.
“We want to improve the non-oil trade out of Dubai - and this is one of the significant vehicles to do that,” said Mike Bhaskaran, CEO of World Logistics Passport. “For us, the most important advantage is leverage Dubai as a hub and start moving stuff from southern parts of Asia to new markets in Africa and Latin America.
“It’s about shaving off hours and days in the moving of goods – that’s where the benefits lie with the WLP programme.
“That’s our main theme.”
All about reach
Dubai has the reach and resources to make that possible. DP World which is “spearheading” the initiative now has ports and logistics support facilities extending all the way to Latin America apart from its strengths in Asia and the Middle East. In Africa too, the operator is adding to its network, the latest being the 20-year terminal concession agreement for Luanda port signed with Angolan government.
South-south trade has substantial potential for generating more growth as developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America move to bolster their trade volumes with each other
Not just by sea
But Bhaskaran is quick to emphasize that it’s not all about moving goods via the high seas. Emirates airline and its cargo operations are very much part of the options WLP can offer anyone wishing to join in.
“Whether it’s sea or air, it is a solution that will change from customer to customer,” the CEO added. “It could be air-air solution or sea-air. What WLP wants to be is nimble, faster, and offer convenience.”
The intention is to come together and provide a solution as ‘One Dubai’
As of now, on a country basis, Colombia, Senegal and Kazakhstan have formally joined, while Brazil, Uruguay and South Africa have registered as partners.
On Tuesday, three UAE based entities became part of the platform, these being Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and flydubai.
So, is WLP as much about signing up governments as it is about taking in organisations and businesses? “There are quite a few organisations within Dubai that are already there - Emirates SkyCargo, the Free Zones Corp., etc. The intention is to come together and provide a solution as ‘One Dubai’.”
No COVID disruptions
Supply chains and disruptions were dominant concerns last year, when the COVID-19 initially cropped up in China and immediately led to delays in global container movements. Some of the effects of that are still being felt in commodity prices, not least in the building materials trade. Everyone seems to be in agreement that global logistics needs a reset… and new solutions.
According to Bhaskaran, this is where the World Logistics Passport push proved timely. “
“If you ask me, 80 per cent of folks right now - the large corporations - had to go back and rejig supply chains,” he said. “The WLP thus is a vehicle for them to make alternate routes and send/bring goods from different parts.
“It was perfect timing as people were looking to diversify and look at new markets. We were presenting solutions, we were inter-connecting the Far East to Latin America. And all via Dubai.
“It is a faster route because traditional routes take multiple paths. There are a lot of markets where we have the presence of Emirates and DP World, and these large entities are a good opportunity for us to leverage.”