- seul le discours prononcé fait foi -
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s an honor for me to address this distinguished audience attending the closing dinner of the 2013 edition of the Logistics Business Forum at the historical venue of the castle of Bourglinster.
I believe today’s presentations at the Logistics Business Forum gave all those who were present a good insight of the trends of the logistics industry as well as of the competitive advantages of Luxembourg in this area.
To summon up on the major tends, the logistics business remains an important segment of the business environment in the world and particularly Europe. Logistics and supply chain management is one of the biggest economic sectors in many countries of Europe, with a cross-sector turnover of about 950 billion dollars. Logistics is among the top-ranked sectors, together with sectors like metal working (turnover of 1,200 billion EUR), the food industry (turnover of 900 billion EUR) and the automotive industry (800 billion EUR).
Though the growth rate in the logistics sector is expected to slow somewhat, that rate will still outpace that of global GDP which is a good situation to be in, considering current economic circumstances.
Even so, freight and logistics companies will need to deal with numerous issues in the years ahead. For example, as trade routes become more competitive and as freight rates are challenged due to higher capacity in the maritime and airfreight markets, the industry’s bargaining power with shippers will be challenged.
To counter this challenge it is important to develop into niche activities or trade routes, including in emerging markets. Successful operators develop profitable trade lanes and have business models supported by operational excellence and designed to develop expertise in customers’ industries while empowering those customers with greater information and better service at the same time.
In order to be able to respond quickly with differentiated and advanced logistics solutions advanced IT tools as well as skilled people are key.
The national strategy with regard to transport and logistics has to be set in the broader context of the European Transport Policy.
In this context it has to be mentioned that the European Commission developed in 2007 a Freight Logistics Action Plan suggesting a series of actions to promote freight and traffic management, including the review of the vehicle dimensions and weights, actually under discussion a the level of the European Parliament, the systematic development of Intelligent Transport Systems (which is progressing well on the various modes of transport), the simplification of administrative barriers (considering that multiple and duplicated administrative requirements are hampering barrier-free trade in a globalized world), and the development of freight corridors (which has been taken into account in the development of the recently approved TEN-T network where Luxembourg figures prominently with all major roads, rail corridors and multimodal platforms). With regard to this latter aspect it has to be mentioned that on the 21st of March the GEIE (Groupement européen d’intérêt économique) for the rail corridor 2 has been created and is headquartered in Luxembourg.
The strategy which has been developed by the Government since early 2000 has been continuously pursued during the last years. As a consequence the initial 4 axes of action namely competitiveness, legal and administrative framework, infrastructure development and promotion have been supplemented by a multi-product and multimodal strategy.
As the backbone of logistics, investments in the infrastructure are paramount to the logistics sector and I want to address the current state of play.
The airport has seen the extension of the apron area at the Cargocentrer completed last year as well as the modification works to make it Boeing 747-8F compatible. While the Pharma- and Healtchare Centre has been put into service beginning of April 2013, the foundations for the valuables storage facilities to be erected in the freezone at the Findel are being laid so that the facilities could come into service as planned late 2014 and add a further value-added logistics activity to the sector in Luxembourg.
Concerning the WSA/EUROHUB site in Bettembourg, the Government has recently approved a 210 million bill for a new multimodal platform at Bettembourg that will triple the capacity to 300.000 containers.
The newly built rail/road terminal constitutes a major contribution to the Government’s policy aiming at pushing for a modal shift from road to less polluting transport modes like rail and inland navigation.
Furthermore, through an intelligent linking up between the logistics platform and the multimodal platform both Etienne Schneider and myself want to give a further push to the logistics sector in Luxembourg.
However it is equally clear that the last mile will stay on the road which is why we continue to invest in a well-organized and interconnected high way system which is vital for the sector. With the construction of the Micheville connection, whereby the A4 joining Luxembourg to Esch will become a transborder highway and the finalization of the A7, the highway grid will become even more complete in the near future.
Further works are planned in order to avoid congestion at major road axis and near to urbanized areas to the benefit of the logistics sector and the local inhabitants like the planned by-passes in Troisvierges, Dippach, Hosingen, Ettelbruck or the introduction of a third lane on parts of the highways A6/A3.
Concerning the rail network, the doubling of the Luxembourg-Pétange railway track has been completed in December 2012. The ongoing doubling of the railway tracks between Pulvermühle and Sandweiler, combined with the construction of a new parallel viaduct in as well as the planned construction of a new railway track between Luxembourg and Bettembourg will lead to more capacity and better transport efficiency especially for the freight sector.
To improve the efficiency and sustainability of freight transport further, the infrastructure managers are also implementing ITS (Intelligent Transport systems) on the freight corridors, be it the ERTMS for the railway (I note that the implementation rate in Luxembourg of ERTMS is nearly 100%), or RIS (Rivers Information services) on the Moselle river, which is provides timely information on vessels and cargo and thus allows for improved voyage planning.
We are conscious though that this implies a European approach as the supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link and we therefore are fully supporting the corridor approach launched by the European Commission for the different modes of transport.
I also encourage the industry to make further use of the European Marco Polo program which is open for all shippers that shift freight from road to inland navigation or rail and where participants can benefit from interesting co-financing possibilities for innovative intermodal logistics solutions. Some Luxembourgish companies already submitted their proposals in the past and where successful. The 2013 call ends on 23rd of August so that there remains time for the submission of new projects.
In this context I also want to announce that a national aid scheme is in preparation at my Ministry that promotes the modal shift from road to inland navigation or rail, so that shippers and transport operators are incentivized to look at alternative routings for their supply chain in order to reduce CO2 emissions and congestion for the benefit of the society. This scheme will give a competitive edge to the multimodal policy I initiated in agreement with the European goals as set out in the 2011 White Paper "To a single European Transport area".
Let me now come back to the Study Future for Logistics which was made in a collaborative effort by the members of the Cluster.
As stated during the Logistics Business Day in November 2012, the general strategy developed by the Cluster, as a think tank, aiming at strengthening Luxembourg’s international logistics hub are in agreement with the policy developed and the measures implemented by the Government and the respective ministries as a consequence of the earlier mentioned action plans.
After a common analysis by both Mr Schneider and myself, we concluded that about three quarter of the recommendations that are addressing our two ministries directly are in implementation or planned to be implemented.
In a common letter to the Cluster we have therefore asked the Cluster to continue on its way in promoting the necessary acceptance of freight transport in the general opinion and in particular in the opinion of the younger, as it is important for Luxembourg to develop a qualified workforce for this growing business sector.
We also appealed in this letter that the cluster should continue to encourage more cooperation between its members in order to address the Business to Business opportunities recommendations that were addressed in the list of recommendations and which are able to reduce cost through the creation of synergies.
Indeed, although every mode of transport is to deploy its inherent strengths - road, rail, waterborne and air, one key is combined transport permitting less vehicle kilometers, better use of vehicles and infrastructure and lower carbon emissions. Combined transport also extends the reach of the network served from Luxembourg through the increase of volumes.
Maybe it’s time for the industry to go a step further and embrace industrial clustering allowing for explicit business collaboration improving labour and expertise availability and better resource management.
Indeed, logistics clusters generally exhibit advantages rooted in the economics of transportation, including economies of scope, avoiding equipment idle time and empty repositioning moves, and better service through the growth of freight volume and of frequencies of services.
All these circumstances create a positive feedback loop i.e. the more companies join the logistics cluster, the lower the transportation costs and the better the service. This attracts again more companies to the cluster, further reducing costs and improving the transportation services.
In this regard the launch of the WSA/EUROHUB at Bettembourg hub with a tripling of the transport capacity, with a surface of 52 hectares for logistics activities and a connection to the container terminal and the rolling motorway should be taken by the industry as what it is, a unique opportunity for the logistics sector in Luxembourg.
I thank you for your attention.
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