Global Trade in 2021 – An outlook and learnings for your business

At the beginning of 2020, when the global COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and international trade, the logistics industry noticed big changes. Not only had the pandemic resulted in a change in global demand – it had also accelerated digital transformation around the world. Now, two months into 2021, many businesses are still transforming their trading patterns and want to know what to expect within international trade this year.
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9th March 2021

Our webinar “Prepare your business to trade globally in 2021", in partnership with MODIFI, covered the outlook for international trade. So, here we lay out the webinar learnings for you and your business and give you tips and tricks for global trade in 2021.

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies had to re-think their business as the pandemic impacted the world immensely. With that, businesses opened up towards digital tools and started to trade differently than before. For instance, small shop owners set up an e-commerce business within a very short time to assure they could still sell their products – now online instead of face to face.

This global development naturally impacted the logistics industry. That’s why the industry experienced very hectic times throughout 2020 and the beginning of 2021. As supply chains got affected by the impact of COVID-19 and warehouse labour decreased, this caused a reduced speed of container turnaround, resulting in congested ports – especially in Asia, Europe and the US.

Outlook for global trade in 2021

Moving forward, container shortages are expected to stabilize in the near future. Moreover, according to the World Bank Outlook, global economic activity is predicted to expand 4% in 2021 but remain 5% below pre-pandemic levels. For the continuation of 2021, one thing is for sure: anything can happen, and with that, companies around the world must be prepared for the new normal.

Trine Storgaard Nielsen, Global Head of Sales, outlined in our webinar that it is challenging to foresee all the possible global trade trends for 2021. However, she stated that globalization and global trade are “here to stay”. And with that, she summarized further key trends for global trade in 2021:

  1. Financial stimuli to decline: Governments have been financially supporting societies throughout these difficult times. However, it is expected that this support will decline going forward. This might result in a lower demand for goods – impacting the logistics industry. As Trine described, this would lead to an improved supply-demand balance – and less supply chain disruptions than in 2020.

  2. Bankruptcies to increase: As a lot of businesses need to re-think their business models, this will also cause shutdowns of businesses and shops. According to CNBC, 10,000 retail shops are expected to close in 2021 in the US – reflecting a 10% increase in closures compared to 2020.

  3. The rise of e-commerce: As local shops are said to close in many places worldwide, Trine finds that the situation also means a rise of e-commerce. As the pandemic accelerated e-commerce in 2020, this increased speed to market is predicted to stay. With that, more e-commerce owners will manage their supply chains and logistics digitally moving forward.

  4. Ease of trading with international partners: Moving forward in 2021, face-to-face meetings between trade partners will stay lower than before. But this doesn’t mean that trade will decrease accordingly – quite the opposite: given the experiences throughout the last months, we can see that people around the world will easily stay connected virtually. With that, digital tools can positively impact logistics as barriers from international trade have been removed throughout the pandemic. For instance, your company will now be able to easily find a new supplier in another location around the world – by just finding this supplier online.

  5. Sustainability on the rise: Another key trend in global trade is sustainability and its impact on the logistics industry. We at Twill are proud to be part of the Maersk Group and its goal to become CO2 neutral by 2050 – with the delivery of the first carbon-neutral vessel by 2023. In light of this, and supercharged by Maersk’s sustainability ambition, Twill has a goal to help connect 100,000 small and medium-sized enterprises, including women-operated businesses, to international trade by 2025. With that, we are putting sustainability at the core of our values.

Which solutions and tools can facilitate global trade in 2021?

As outlined in our webinar, the first step small and medium-sized businesses can take to get ready for a challenging 2021 is managing their working capital. To avoid problems resulting from the pandemic such as shutdowns of businesses, a solution to increase working
capital for buyers and suppliers is digital trade finance. It will help to mitigate risk and provide small and medium-sized businesses with the financial resources they might need now. Further, digital trade finance provides you with easy access to working capital online. At Twill, we provide you with the option to add financial services to your booking. With MODIFI, we have a reliable partner who is specialised in growing small businesses with digital trade finance.

Moreover, technology can enable small and medium-sized companies to grow their international trade in 2021. Trine Storgaard Nielsen outlined throughout the webinar that she recommends businesses to find a stable partner for their logistics – a partner who is prioritizing their needs. With that, your company will avoid a lot of paperwork, and you will make your life easier. Selecting the right partner in this unprecedented situation can save your business a lot of time and money.

“We have seen an openness to digital tools over the last months as it increases transparency for businesses. We at Twill offer our customers a digital platform to book their freight transport worldwide. And we also offer them a two-way-commitment, offering priority for their cargo on the vessels. We can do that as we are supercharged by industry leader Maersk – whereas a lot of logistics companies who are not the owners of vessels are not able to give this security.”

Trine Storgaard Nielsen
Head of Sales at Twill

How Twill can simplify global trade for your business in 2021

Taking your business global and trading in 2021 can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be! Twill is here to support you and your business and can take care of your logistics. At Twill, our platform has been created, and our team has been built around the needs of small and medium-sized businesses.

We can help you moving your logistics from offline to online with our digital logistics offerings. With us, you get your cargo around the world quickly and smoothly through our intuitive platform. Discover more about Twill now.

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