DHL Danzas Air and Ocean

DHL Danzas Air and Ocean

President and chief executive, North America

The two critical issues in 2004 will be the extent to which world economies can sustain the nascent recovery, and the importance of ensuring that heightened security regulations protect our people and maintain the free flow of goods, information and capital.

How the supply chain - providers, shippers, consignees and government authorities - balance these imperatives will play a pivotal role in determining if the still-fragile recovery can form sturdy, durable roots.

As I write this, much uncertainty exists about the long-term impact of rules governing how, when and where shipping manifest information is transmitted to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. And there is the distinct possibility that we will eventually be required to physically screen or inspect all belly-hold air cargo before boarding.

No one wants to err on the side of insufficient or inadequate security. We are aware that the costs of compliance pale in comparison to the economic disaster that would be spawned by another terrorist act. And we are prepared to accept the burdens that come with preserving our way of life and livelihood.

Nevertheless, we as logistics professionals must acknowledge the potential consequences of every security directive. At stake are the fate of companies that provide time-sensitive delivery services, the thousands of businesses that depend on these services to serve their customers and compete in the global marketplace, and no less than the future of a world trading system that took decades to cultivate and which, for all its flaws, offers all people the best hope for success and prosperity.

That is why all security rules must be crafted and implemented with the greatest of care. What we do today will shape our industry, and the global economy, for decades to come. To quote an oft-repeated line: "Failure is not an option."