After a couple of fine recovery years, growth is way off in the Transport & Logistics sector. Margins are under pressure from cost increases on a broad front, with fuel and labour costs being the most problematic. At the same time, the pressure to innovate has only increased. Smart solutions are needed to work more efficiently and, above all, more sustainably. Electrification is on the horizon, but at a time when margins are shrinking, such investments are a (too) big deal for many businesses. The sector may show some recovery in 2024, but it will not happen quickly in the current shaky economic and geopolitical environment in which higher interest rates also thwart investment.
The problem with continued cost increases is that they are increasingly difficult to pass on to customers. There is a danger that businesses will price themselves out of the market. That probability increases as market demand falls (due in part to declining consumer spending and businesses running down inventories). International trade is shrinking, partly due to the ailing economy in Germany, the leading EU economic country and demand from industry is falling. Based on the weaker economic outlook (especially in the U.S. and Europe), we expect a decline in new orders in late 2023 and early 2024. Road and water transport, in particular, is facing contraction as a result. Air passenger transport and public transport are avoiding this.

For transportation companies, labour costs are the most significant expense. Due to labour shortages and inflation, the cost of labour has risen sharply. Can other costs, such as fuel, fall again over time? With wages, this is not likely to be the case; they remain high and only get higher. Fortunately, the European Mobility Package is in place (regulations from Brussels), which has curbed unfair competition with cheap Eastern European drivers.

Besides wages, fuel prices are crucial for carriers (and especially for road haulage). One-fifth of costs are determined by fuel. While it's true that energy and fuel prices have normalised slightly, they remain high. The industry will not get rid of expensive diesel so easily. 

The industry is struggling with underqualified personnel in many parts of the world. Not only is there a shortage of truck drivers, but also of warehouse workers. This can slow down operations and increase costs. Perhaps with technological innovations (AI solutions and robotization), specific tasks in logistics handling can be further automated. Think administration and warehouse work. This creates space for available staff to perform other tasks.

With emerging digitalisation, there is also a need for other professionals. Desired knowledge and skills change. Dealing with data and online systems is becoming increasingly important. This applies in all areas, from planning and purchasing to quality and inventory management. Robots also increasingly need to be operated. Indeed, in handling the logistics process, the use of robotics is becoming more and more usual. This robotization will continue to grow. The duties of warehouse and port workers are changing as a result. Qualified personnel are increasingly needed to keep the robots functioning optimally.


Transportation & logistics is a capital-intensive industry. This applies not only to purchasing transportation equipment (planes, buses, trucks, ships, etc.) but also because of high maintenance costs. Persistently high-interest rates weigh heavily in this regard. Especially given the necessary innovations in the areas of the environment and sustainability. The sector's debt burden is relatively high.

Public transportation is almost back to pre-corona levels, although travel patterns have changed.

Business travel by train is down, while leisure travel has increased.

The boom of e-commerce and parcel shipping is over. After a decrease, normalisation now seems to be taking place in parcel shipping, but at a higher level than before Corona. Although we see increasing environmental awareness among consumers, that may slow down online purchases.
  1. Stricter environmental regulations
    Pressure is growing from society to reduce CO2 emissions. Transport & logistics accounts for a quarter of global CO2 emissions. Carriers cannot avoid the green transition. Additional investment will be needed to achieve green trucks, ships and aircraft (electrification). But it won't be easy. For example, the likelihood of larger battery- or hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft flying by 2030 seems slim.

    By 2050, the EU wants to be climate-neutral. According to European Commission plans, emissions from new trucks should drop 45 percent by the end of the current decade. By 2040, it should reach 90 percent, allowing only electric trucks to enter the market. By 2025, about 3 percent of newly sold trucks are expected to be electrically powered. Sector-wide, sustainability will have to be addressed. Also, with the advent of more and more zero-emission zones.
  2. The Role of technology
    Whether solving workforce shortages or optimising supply chains, the role of modern technology is crucial. Consider the application of IoT (Internet of Things), blockchain and advanced analytics to optimise processes, improve efficiency and reduce costs. Thanks to new technologies, parties in supply chains (e.g., shippers, carriers and forwarders) are increasingly interconnected, allowing businesses to handle disruptions in the chain more flexibly and efficiently. Faster intervention is, therefore, possible. Especially in highly competitive markets, this can be a decisive advantage.

    New systems should also address customer requests for transparency and real-time visibility of their shipments.
  3. Cooperation and economies of scale
    There is increasing collaboration within the industry for cost reasons and to meet the increasing needs and requirements of customers and governments. Both in the field of transportation and logistics handling. Consider organising and purchasing transportation together, joint use of distribution centres, and collective investment in digital systems and databases.

    In addition to increasing collaboration, we also see economies of scale continue. Global services can be organised more directly by taking over fellow transport companies elsewhere in the world. Cost efficiency also plays into this, of course.
  4. Increasing in the number of bankruptcies
    Allianz Trade expects global insolvencies to increase by 21% by 2023. There has also been a marked increase in trade and transportation & logistics sectors. High costs put pressure on margins and make it increasingly challenging to stay afloat. Added to this is the fact that many small carriers drive in subcontracts for more prominent players. These smallest ones are the first to perish when things get worse in the industry.

    When the economy is down, businesses get each other into trouble. Cash flow comes under pressure as many businesses wait longer to pay their invoices. This creates a domino effect:  one company infects another. With the logical consequence that the probability of default of payment and bankruptcy increases. Even healthy companies can be affected.
The blow of unpaid invoices and sudden bankruptcies of buyers can be absorbed by taking out a trade credit insurance. We have a solution for every type of business, whether you are SME or Multinational. Solutions we can help you with include:
  • Trade credit insurance: this insurance protects your business against the risk of non-payment by customers. This can be useful when entering into new commercial transactions , where the risk of non-payment may be present.
  • Export credit insurance: If you export goods or services, we can help you protect your exports against risks such as disasters, political unrest or non-payment.
  • Risk management: we offer comprehensive risk management services to help you identify and manage trade and payment risks among your customers and prospects. This allows you to check their creditworthiness. And we take over collection activities from you.

75 results


Apr 19, 2024

Belgians get substantially more money

The average amount Belgians added per year over the past 20 years in financial assets was €2,380. This is according to our report on private financial assets in the nine main EU countries. Read more.


Apr 10, 2024

The risk of payment default increases considerably

Global companies are paying their invoices later and later. On average, the global DSO increased by +3 days, to 59 days by 2023. Want to know more? Read it here.


Mar 26, 2024

What are the forecasts for the automotive industry?

Our Economic Research Centre outlines the outlook for the automotive sector in this report. Read the summary here or download the report.

75 results