A joint survey of international multimodal forwarding networks launched late last year by Japan's Transport Ministry and the Japan Transport Economic Research Center is nearing completion.
Officials of the ministry's Cargo Transport and Distribution Bureau reported Friday that they expect the survey, to be wrapped up by the end of March, will disclose considerable information on the activities in Japan and abroad involving construction of overseas service networks.An ad hoc committee put together by the ministry and the research center has been working with the Japan International Freight Forwarders' Association in conducting the survey through contacts with shippers using freight forwarders and shipping lines, the bureau explained.
The survey intends to provide information on how freight forwarders are coping with global physical distribution problems and how they are advancing in overseas markets.
Also expected to be revealed are the rapid changes in international physical distribution resulting from cross-trade transport and expanded imports of manufactured goods and the needs of shippers and users.
The officials noted that the survey results should enable the committee to define the best ways for freight forwarders to develop operations abroad and to put together information systems designed to ensure smooth development of physical distribution from a global perspective.
Much of the information already in hand reportedly provides facts concerning networks of overseas subsidiaries, intermodal cargo volumes on a route-by-route basis, efforts involved in construction of networks and trends in physical distribution worldwide.
Information sought from shippers, the bureau said, concerns their current approaches to international physical distribution, future plans and needs related to freight forwarders' multimodal transport services.
Personnel charged with physical distribution at representative shippers have been asked to provide information on a cargo-by-cargo basis. In the case of shipping companies offering multimodal services, they have been requested to contribute information concerning types of port-to-port services available and recent changes encountered.
One bureau official said he believes the survey results are "going to prove invaluable for the ministry's future planning in view of the fact that there has been significant progress in the globalization of physical distribution in recent years."
A spokesman for Nippon Yusen Kaisha said he expects the survey will assist his company and other shipping lines in further developing the triangular intermodal network linking North America, Europe and Asia.
''We are looking forward to studying the survey report when it is completed, especially since we understand that it will be very comprehensive," the spokesman said. "The information would have been useful years ago, but we are pleased that it is going to be available at last."