TIACA: Airfreight will be collateral damage in trade wars

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Any trade war sparked by the imposition of higher tariffs by the Trump administration in the United States would damage the air freight industry in the long term, says Sebastiaan Scholte, chairman of the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), talking to Air Cargo Week.

Scholte said that even if a successor to Trump reversed his recent decisions and introduced an open trade policy, the harm would still be felt.

“The effect [of a trade war] would not be felt in the short term but could hurt in the long term. It will definitely hurt trade volumes and so will definitely hurt our industry.

“In the worst-case scenario that we will have a trade war, the effects might only be felt when there is another president in the United States with a whole different and open trade policy.

“If you then try to change [the policy] this will again take time to have an effect,” Scholte said.

He added that the delay in feeling the effects of that tit-for-tat increases in tariffs were because global supply chains are so inter-linked.

Scholte added that globalisation was here to stay and that decisions to counter the effects of tariff rises, such as moving a factory from one country to another, took a lot of time and were not done lightly.

“You don’t, from one day to another, shut down the whole factory and setup something somewhere else. You have to be really sure because you don’t do this just temporarily, but for couple of years, at least,” he says.