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David Ross

UAE, DUBAI - Transport

Facilitators

Senior Vice-President, FedEx Express MEIA

Bio

David J. Ross began his career with FedEx Express in Sydney, Australia in 1992, managing the company’s Ground Operations until he was promoted to Managing Director of Australasia and Pacific Islands in 1993. In 1994, Indonesia was added to his scope of responsibilities. In 1995, he took up the position of Managing Director of Hong Kong before being appointed Vice-President of the North Pacific Region in 1998.

"The numbers are definitely growing and the UAE has quickly regained its economic foothold after the recession."

Today, key sectors such as oil and gas, engineering goods, food, metals, luxury goods, automotive, and aviation are all major contributors to the growth of Dubai and its logistics sector. How did this help your business in 2013?

FedEx is a major contributor to the business community. We facilitate international trade and enhance customer flexibility and speed to market through our well-established international air and intra-regional ground network, which connects over 99% of the world’s GDP. Shippers from different industries turn to FedEx for its capabilities to provide access through innovative and customized solutions, and our business certainly benefits from that. As demand from key sectors grow, FedEx develops specific solutions that better meet its clients’ logistics needs. For example, recognizing the growth of the aviation sector in the region and now specializing in shipping requirements, FedEx showcased its Aerospace Solutions during the 2013 Dubai Airshow. Companies from the aviation sector can now access an extensive range of FedEx-tailored shipping services that meet the time-sensitive demands of acquiring components to manufacture, maintain, or repair aircraft back into service. Such innovative solutions have enabled companies across different industries reach new markets and fulfill the needs of their customers.

In your last interview with TBY you said that “making every customer experience outstanding” defines your service quality. How do you apply this statement to your services?

Over the 41 years of our existence, we have constantly enhanced every aspect of customer interaction that facilitates their shipping process and enhances their overall experience. We foster an environment of continuous improvement and innovation through all our customer touch points including online technology and automation tools, customer service, package pickup and delivery, sales, and customs clearance operations to ensure we deliver the best possible service to our customers. In addition, our 300,000 team members globally are our biggest strength in ensuring every customer receives exceptional service; therefore, it is extremely important that we continuously provide our team members with various quality enhanced tools and systems.

“The numbers are definitely growing and the UAE has quickly regained its economic foothold after the recession.”

Dubai is one of the largest trade hubs in the world, and the largest re-export hub in the region. What business opportunities does Dubai bring for new investors in the logistics sector?

Dubai has certainly secured itself as a regional and global trade hub. Today, the logistics sector is in a better position to capitalize on the increasing trading opportunities of non-oil products as a result of Dubai’s diversified economy. The World Bank and IFC’s Doing Business 2014 report ranked the UAE fourth in the Trading Across Borders category. This is supported by several factors such as the free trade agreements (FTAs) and world-class infrastructure that is continuously upgraded to maximize the import and export of goods. Dubai’s strategic geographic location and easy access is the perfect gateway between the East and West, providing the logistics sector with the opportunity to facilitate and boost trade. Additionally, the presence of free zones across Dubai simplifies the establishment of new businesses, and as such SMEs and international companies can set up without compromising on ownership, taxes, currency restrictions, or custom duties.

The transport and logistics cluster is an important sector in the UAE economy, comprising 10.4% of non-oil GDP in 2005. What is your forecast for the logistics sector for 2014 in Dubai?

The numbers are definitely growing and the UAE has quickly regained its economic foothold after the recession as a regional business center and is continually reinforcing its position as a global business hub. Dubai Customs reported that Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade hit AED1.3 trillion ($354 billion) in value in 2013. The logistics sector in Dubai is expected to continue to develop with the government heavily investing in infrastructure to support the demand for international and domestic shipping. With plans for Expo 2020 underway, businesses of all sizes, from both the public and private sectors, will be involved in fuelling growth across all major industries in the country, including logistics. Express transport companies will need to continue expanding their operations and have the ability to cater to various key sectors. The industries that are expected to benefit the most from Expo 2020 vary from retail and banking to recruitment and transport. These all require very specific shipping requirements. Currently, we are also seeing an influx of SMEs being established in Dubai that require logistics solutions for both local and international customers. The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) has reported that, in 2013, over 95% of the companies that operate from the free zone are new to Dubai. These SMEs are expected to contribute to the growth of the logistics industry in 2014 and beyond as they expand their businesses in the country, throughout the region, and globally.

The size and efficiency of Dubai’s ports have made the Emirate the third largest re-export hub after Hong Kong and Singapore. How do Dubai’s ports act as a key factor for your business?

The ports in Dubai are crucial to our business as we connect the 69 countries across the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, and Africa to the rest of the world through our regional hub based at terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport. The hub is equipped with a pre-clearance facility that allows us to move goods quickly and efficiently in order to meet the demands of our customers. Jebel Ali Port is one of the largest in the world, and together with the airports and excellent road connectivity to the rest of the region, Dubai has established itself as one of the best multi-modal and re-export hubs in the world. To facilitate the growing trade, FedEx, in November 2011, opened a 48,000 square foot facility at the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) that includes warehousing and cold storage facilities along with a dedicated FedEx clearance brokerage service. While this adds value to our shipping capabilities within UAE, it also gives customers in the free zone greater connectivity to the FedEx global network. Our presence there allows us to offer next-day service from Jafza to the GCC, Europe, and North America.

In 2009, Dubai International Airport handled 1.9 million tons of cargo. Volumes are expected to surpass 3 million tons by the end of 2015. What is your approach to this forecast?

A recent report from Dubai International Airport states that cargo volumes reached record levels in 2013 with approximately 2.4 million tons of air freight passing through the airport. As the logistics industry develops and the economy continues its forward momentum, we have developed the infrastructure required to match the growth expected over the next few years. In order to cater to the continued and growing demand for logistics, FedEx has invested in building its infrastructure across the UAE. We have been in the midst of a series of expansions. Last year, we opened our latest facility located in Skycity Business and Logistics Park at the Abu Dhabi International Airport. Strategically located, this facility provides enhanced connectivity to the FedEx regional hub in Dubai and aims at improving service coverage to the industrial areas and upcoming developments within the capital. We have also recently increased our flights through our Dubai hub to a total of 44 FedEx flights and 700 commercial flights a week. The growth of air cargo in this region has been exceptional, and we want to ensure that our capabilities continue to meet customer demand.

How would you evaluate Dubai’s logistics infrastructure?

Dubai differentiates itself by investing in its world-class infrastructure, such as global airline connections, and has also created a business-friendly climate with the establishment of free zones such as Dubai Airport Free Zone, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, and Dubai Healthcare City, to name a few. The UAE government continues to make significant investments in infrastructure development to meet the demands of its growing population. The metro and rail network is being extended, more roads and bridges are being built, and the capacities of the two airports in Dubai are being expanded. A report by HSBC states that Dubai will invest over AED30 billion ($8.2 billion) in new infrastructure to host the World Expo 2020. This will significantly drive the growth of the logistics sector. With thousands of participants in addition to the 25 million visitors expected at the six-month long event, the demand for logistics services will also grow significantly.

FedEx Express provided shipping and logistics solutions to exhibitors and visitors during Dubai Airshow 2013 in November and has been an official sponsor since 2005. How was your experience at this event?

Being the preferred courier of the Dubai Airshow 2013 was a great experience. FedEx has been a key exhibitor since the mid-1990s, enabling us to be part of the growth in the aviation industry in the region. Our exhibit last year was the largest to date for us and illustrated our rich history of participation with this premier event. Sponsoring the event serves as an ideal platform for FedEx to highlight its core competencies and capabilities in offering innovative shipping solutions in the Middle East, and globally.

© The Business Year – May 2014

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