Maersk: “Agility key to happy customers and tapping new Eurasian markets”
As one of the major global shipping players, Maersk has a significant share of the Eurasian rail market. The company needed to adjust its strategy in 2022 because of geopolitical challenges. However, with the mindset that “when a door closes – another opens,” Maersk stays positive and believes that even in challenging periods, there are new opportunities to be tapped, always with a focus on customer experience.
On 7 and 8 December, the European Silk Road Summit takes place for the first time beyond the borders of the Netherlands, where the annual industry event was born. Maersk will be present and explain how flexibility can be the key to success in a changing environment. RailFreight.com spoke to Maia Parlagashvili, global product manager of intercontinental rail at Maersk, about the present and future of Eurasian rail solutions.
2022 has been a turbulent year. If you could choose some positive Silk Road highlights, what would they be?
From the rail market perspective, the Middle Corridor’s development has been a positive highlight. Possibilities have always been there; however, geopolitical circumstances have pushed all involved parties to work harder and make the connection via Caspian and Black seas possible.
Geopolitics is becoming an integral part of transport lately. Do you agree? If so, do you consider them when exploring new markets or services, and how do you integrate them into your planning?
Being part of world trade always involves navigation under different regulations. We in Maersk always strictly follow the rules agreed upon by international organisations, such as sanctions and restrictions. The needed processes are well established within the Maersk organisation, and we can react very swiftly. We have always been agile and flexible also in the past, and good governance is only one side of that medal. If you cannot react quickly and agile, you cannot tap into market opportunities. When one door closes – another opens, and the emergence of the Middle Corridor is an excellent example of that.
Apart from the war, we see other significant developments. The world economy is struggling with inflation, and the energy crisis has impacted Europe and China. Do you see them also impacting the Silk Road? If so, how?
World economic developments like high inflation rates or significantly changing exchange rates always have an impact on trade and, therefore, also impact logistics. With lower consumer demand, full warehouses at the destination, and a general slowdown of economies, we will see less pressure on supply chains and rate normalisation.
That’s no secret; we have already expected this for some time. With ocean rates coming back to a new normal, the value proposition of rail products will have to be very sharp and clearly defined for our customers. But I am optimistic that a rising number of customers will need it to keep their supply chains flexible and resilient. That’s definitely a learning many customers have taken away from the severe disruptions they had to experience during the pandemic and its lockdowns.
How does the market look currently? And what would you expect for the coming years?
We in Maersk welcome rate and volume normalisation in all modes of transport. Supply chains of our customers in the world have been under pressure for the last couple of years, and normalisation is needed. In the meantime, we will continue to offer customers agility and flexibility, which they can achieve with our integrated solutions.
Are we moving towards a new era where the Silk Road will become more ‘multimodal’? Can sea and rail transport work closer together?
In Maersk, we have always been designing multimodal solutions. Sea and Rail can and should be connected. Such connections open up new possibilities and ensure the best value for customers. In Europe, we are focusing on connecting counties in the Mediterranean, such as Turkey, Spain and Morocco, and northern and central Europe by rail, and in some cases, it also involves feeder connections.
What do you expect from the European Silk Road Summit? What is a topic that you look forward to discussing?
I look forward to meeting old and new colleagues and having fruitful discussions on several topics, including the operational stability of the routes, rates and demand on rail with changing market conditions.
European Silk Road Summit 2022
The 2022 edition of the European Silk Road Summit, taking place in Duisburg on 7 & 8 December, is just around the corner! Topics addressed during the webinar will be highlighted during the event, which takes place in the ‘Mecca’ of the European Silk Road, where it all started-Duisburg.
On 7 & 8 December, rail professionals from the Eurasian corridor will gather for a monumental two-day event full of trending topics and networking. LCL, e-commerce, cars on rail and the European-Chinese perspectives on the Silk Road will all be highlighted. Do you want to secure your ticket? Then don’t miss time and get it here after checking the programme and speakers.