Logistically Speaking, U.S. Ranks 14th

The new annual survey from the World Bank of how countries rank in their trade logistics performance is just out, and the U.S. stands a fair to middling 14th. China ranks 30th. The survey rates countries according to:

1. Customs
2. Infrastructure
3. International Shipments
4. Logistics Competence
5. Tracking and Tracing
6. Domestic Logistics Costs
7. Timeliness

The top five are 1. Singapore, 2. Netherlands, 3. Germany, 4. Sweden, 5. Austria

Given all the (negative) attention paid recently to infrastructure, we would have thought the U.S. would have ranked poorly in that area, but the World Bank survey gave the U.S. seventh place in that category. (You can access a sortable table of the results here.) It’s in “domestic logistics costs” — local transportation, warehousing, terminal handling — where the United States did most poorly, ranking 144th.

We speculate as to reasons: Energy costs, taxes, benefit mandates, excessive regulations — many of the same things that contribute to the 31.7 percent cost disadvantage faced by manufacturers in the United States compared to our major global competitors. (As reported in our study, the Escalating Cost Crisis.) And then there’s geographic distance; more compact industrialized countries seem to do well.

We haven’t delved deeply into the methodology, so hesitate to pronounce on the annual rankings with the usual rhetoric about warning signals, wake-up calls and words to the wise. Still, at first glance this looks like a pretty good summary: The United States has many logistical strengths that help us compete in the global economy, but there’s plenty room for improvement.

Thanks to the 3PLWire Blog (Third Party Logistics) for posting on the report.

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