No-one was surprised at the announcement of cuts in government expenditure and increases in taxes. We all knew it was going to happen, whatever the colour of the new Government, and we will all have to live with it and pay the cost. Nevertheless, despite the global financial turnmoil and the recession, and despite the pain of higher taxes, UK citizens are still near the top of the league of world wealth, measured broadly as gross domestic product per capita. We must not forget that regardless of our woes we are still a wealthy nation, and when we consider the low incomes experienced by most of the world’s population we should have little to complain about. But of course we cannot be complacent. Over the last few years the UK has slipped down the league of wealthy nations and the recent falling value of the pound has exacerbated this trend. But whilst the falling value of the pound decreases the notional wealth of the nation, it also reduces the cost of our exports – and above all else the UK has always relied upon trade for its wealth. And always will do.
During the latter half of the 20th century the make up of the economy changed dramatically, with a drift from manufacturing to service industries. In some ways this can be compared with the move from farming to industry in the 19th century, although thankfully the cost in human misery has been much less. However, as big as the change has been, it is often forgotten that the UK is still the world’s 6th largest manufacturing economy by output, and manufacturing is still vital to UK prosperity. But just as farming changed as a result of new methods and terminologies, so manufacturing has changed; our output is now based not on high volume, low cost products but on innovative, high value products, which require specialist engineering and scientific skills. Other parts of the world manufacture the high volume products more cheaply, and we have to accept that in the future our consumable products will continue to be imported from all over the world, using ever more effective supply chains. The optimistic view must be that global trade will continue to grow (with the inevitable ups and downs of economic cycles), and that the UK will depend on global trade for its continued wealth, just as it always has done.
Supply chain management has always been vital to the UK’s interests; it hasn’t always been referred to as such, but from the day men began to trade they have had to put in place the means to move the goods and the means for managing the processes – wool, spices, silk, cotton, cars, televisions, jet engines are all the same as far as a supply chain is concerned. It’s just that the volumes have increased, the markets have become more complex, and the industrialised world has realised that excellent supply chains deliver competitive advantage.
If the UK wants to maintain and grow its wealth, it has to innovate in both goods and services, and it has to trade these goods and services. Implicit in this is the need for trading companies to develop the systems, processes and facilities needed to operate effective supply chains. In the last 20 years UK companies have led the world developing excellent supply chains and The Logistics Business continues to be at the forefront of innovation and development in this area. Our skills and experience have brought benefits to many of the UK’s leading companies, and have been sought after by companies as far afield as Japan, India and Brazil. Thus, not only are we helping other companies to trade, but we are developing services that which are themselves being exported worldwide.