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Turbulent months ahead for logistics in Europe

Blog: Corona impact on European logistics, update October 30, 2020

The winter months ahead will be challenging for logistics and European supply chains. More and more European countries are re-imposing lockdowns, while holidays are bringing unprecedented volumes and Brexit is finally coming to a conclusion. The early months of the pandemic already proved the resiliency of the Dutch logistics system, with no interruptions to speak of. However, will we be able to say the same once Brexit hits?

Brexit is coming ….. and now for real
After the summer we felt it was time to up the ante and intensify our Brexit communications. From conversations with British and US companies we learned that not everyone felt the urgency of the transition period ending 31 December 2020. Therefore, we decided to organize a webinar series around Brexit focusing on several aspects. The first webinar took place in September around the topics of tax, VAT and customs and can be viewed here. The second on October 22 focused on the solutions for logistics and can be accessed here. On November 5, we will have our next Brexit webinar catered specifically towards Japanese companies.

Interestingly enough, the opening presentations by Raimond Nicodem did show that a month of negotiations has brought progress, but it’s hardly close to a deal. And even if the negotiators manage to pull a rabbit out of the hat – a deal that will prevent the much dreaded tariffs – there will still be many, new non-tariff barriers that will frustrate cargo movements and supply chains post-2020. So a deal, will hardly make life easier to those shipping goods between UK and EU.

Either way, the Dutch logistics sector and regulators have prepared thoroughly and they offer a platform for anyone trading between UK and EU to see for themselves what steps need to be taken at

Record numbers for HIDC in October
The looming end of the transition period is a main reason why HIDC has had it busiest month in recent history in terms of new projects. And we get the same signals from our members; there is a high demand for professional logistics services in uncertain times. Another reason for the increase in new projects is the realization of brands and manufacturers that selling online directly to customers (B2B and B2C) is not only an opportunity, but rather a necessity in times of social distancing. Companies can’t rely on physical sales anymore to be successful. For many this means a redesign of their supply chains to enable online order fulfilment, directly and quickly to customers. We are currently matching a lot of those foreign companies to Dutch e-fulfilment specialists so they can grasp the opportunities of online.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Dutch logistics industry preparing for vaccine distribution
Another main challenge for the hopefully near future is the distribution of vaccines. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s Pharma Cargo Community is collaborating to ensure the temperature-controlled supply chain is ready for the safe and efficient transportation of COVID-19 vaccines.

A taskforce led by Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN), Schiphol Cargo and Air France KLM Martinair Cargo, including shippers, pharma producers, forwarders, airlines, ground handlers and trucking companies have met to kick start work on up to four possible ‘vaccine scenarios’, based on different temperature ranges.

The Vaccine Readiness Group has hosted a round table on the 29th of September for the Schiphol Cargo Community, as well as Dutch Customs and the Dutch Ministry of Health, to discuss methods of mapping capacity, from ground handlers to airlines, as well as back-up solutions.

In the meantime, pharma 3PLs in hinterland location are investing in cold chain capacity for transport and intermediate storage to support European governments and vaccine producers in managing the distribution of vaccines in 2021.

Let’s not forget business as usual: the EU is a major consumer market
While Brexit, Covid and vaccines are challenges to deal with, let’s not forget that the EU is still a major destination market to reckon with. When the domestic market falters, for example in North America, growth can be achieved overseas. For North American exporters that are thinking of making the move to Europe or up their game, we are offering a free webinar on November 5, together with Eurodev. This session titled “How to become successful in Europe as a North American manufacturer?” will give practical guidance on sales, marketing, HR, taxes and logistics. Hope to see you there!

This is the fourteenth Corona update of HIDC on the continuity of European logistics (previous thirteen updates can be found here)

October 30th 2020

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