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Mon 1 Jan 2007 12:00 AM

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Global solution

The Global Coalition for Efficient Logistics (GCEL) has been established to tackle the soaring costs of logistics throughout the world. The project could potentially save Middle East economies as much as US$74 billion, explains Captain Samuel Salloum, co-founder, GCEL.

What is the Global Coalition for Efficient Logistics?

The Global Coalition for Efficient Logistics (GCEL) is a non-profit organisation based in Zurich, Switzerland. The coalition has brought together the private and public sectors with a single goal – to connect every enterprise and security enforcement agency involved in the shipping process worldwide, starting from the point-of-original to the final destination.

Why do you think this is so important?

The World Bank expects the world’s freight bill alone to reach US$14 trillion by the year 2020, so reducing overall landed import and export costs has become a critical issue. We have taken on the role of tackling the rising cost of logistics throughout the world. This initiative could save the Middle East economies as much as $74 billion by helping to change the way logistics is managed.

What has led to the rising cost of logistics around the world?

The situation has been sparked by a number of different factors. The ability to control logistics costs is more difficult now, because of the lack of physical infrastructure, inherent inefficiencies and a multitude of IT systems that can’t communicate with each other. Unlike the $450 billion airline passenger industry, which uses technology platforms provided by Sabre and Amadeus, the $4 trillion global freight industry has been without a single unified system, until today.

So what solution will the coalition offer to remedy the situation?

Addressing these pressures is not a luxury; it is a necessity if we are to succeed in securing a sustainable interdependent global economy. GCEL has launched a global initiative to provide such a system and alleviate the pressures on the heart of the global economy. We want to connect companies involved in the global shipping process using a single platform operated by the twelve largest technology deplorers in the world. Three of these deplorers will have headquarters based in the Middle East and Africa region, and then another three in each remaining region - Asia Pacific, America and Europe.

What can the logistics industry expect from this system?

What our industry lacks is a horizontal information system to connect all its different parts and this is why we have developed the Global Horizontal E-Logistics System (or GHELS). The system is expected to protect national borders, secure and expedite free trade agreements and help secure freight against cargo terrorism with no cost to governments, shippers or logistics service providers.

Why have you created a global coalition, instead of simply handing the task to a single technology deplorer?

No one organisation, government authority or system in the industry can provide a solution to solve these global logistics infrastructure, efficiency and cargo security problems. The fact that GCEL is a public/private coalition ensures that future needs of both government and commercial logistics firms are provided for as part of a global strategy developed to alleviate global freight problems.

When do you plan to deploy this system?

GHELS is already being deployed through a multi-lane global pilot implementation programme starting in the first quarter of 2007, running through the Inland Port of Americas project in Texas. The programme will include the participation and cooperation with multiple shippers, carriers, logistics providers and the country of Mexico.

What role does the Middle East region play in your global ambitions?

The Middle East is becoming increasingly important within the international logistics industry. We already have multiple ambassadors representing countries in this region and they have encouraged us to visit the Middle East and meet various officials here. I have already travelled to a number of countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. So things are moving perfectly and we are building momentum in the region. In the future, we will also have a physical presence here, possibly in Dubai, although the exact location is currently undecided.

We have taken on the role of tackling the rising cost of logistics throughout the world

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