CEO Ron Widdows urges policies that promote global supply chain investment
Leipzig, Germany, 28 May 2010 – Private investment – not government spending – is the key to global trade growth, the CEO of the world’s fourth-largest container shipping line said here today.
NOL Group’s Ron Widdows told an international panel of transport ministers that public sector resources are stretched too thin to support global supply chains. The solution, he said, is public policy that encourages private investment in sorely needed infrastructure improvements.
“Developed countries don’t have the money to do what they would like to, and developing countries are already pouring money into the effort,” Widdows told an audience at the International Transport Forum 2010. “We need to de-bottleneck this, and the most practical approach is to attract private investment.”
More than 500 government ministers and transport industry experts gathered in Leipzig to discuss 21st century challenges in moving people and freight. Widdows, a repeat speaker at the Forum, said there is hope for an answer. It requires tapping into vast pools of liquidity withheld by investors during the economic downturn.
The funding is necessary to replace or improve rail lines, highways and seaports. To attract investment, Widdows told government ministers there are three requirements:
- A change in rules that prohibit international ownership of transportation assets such as airlines and marine terminals;
- Incentives – for instance, tax credits – to help investors realize a return on assets; and
- Consistent international regulation to keep from scaring off private investors.
The topic is nothing new to Widdows, whose company owns global shipping line APL. Through much of the decade, he has been a leading industry voice for transport infrastructure improvement. He has discussed it at the European Union, Asian transport summits and the White House in Washington, D.C.
“Global trade is growing again after the economic crisis,” Widdows said, “and it threatens to stress the outdated freight transport system we have in place. If we don’t address this, we’ll inhibit trade growth and the global economy.”
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Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) is a Singapore-based global container shipping, terminals and logistics company. Its container shipping arm, APL, provides world-class container shipping services and intermodal operations supported by leading-edge IT and e-commerce. Its terminals unit has one of the world's leading container terminal networks, with key gateway facilities in Asia and North America. Its logistics business, APL Logistics, provides international, end-to-end logistics services and solutions, employing the latest IT and data connectivity for maximum supply chain visibility and control. NOL Web site: www.nol.com.sg