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The Birth of Global Logistics



For much of human history, the continents were fairly isolated, managing their business with limited contact between far-away peoples. During the Renaissance, Europe saw an increased interest in global connections, seeking political, academic, and economic opportunities in other areas. Much of this business was risky, unpredictable, and lacked the necessary visibility to be properly and effectively managed. However, towards the end of the 16th century, this would all change.

Upon the lifting of the Spanish naval blockade of the Dutch navy in 1590 the Dutch began actively pursuing international trade. This in itself wasn't unique as at the time many European powers were pursuing business internationally. What was unique is the way in which this international business was handled. First, the ships used by the Dutch were specifically designed for trade, made to carry more cargo with less required manpower. They also utilized the best available maps of the day, until they began producing ever better and more accurate ones.

Additionally, the Dutch global trade focused on understanding the partners within every stage of the supply chain. They kept detailed records of the people they traded with, including language and cultural practices. This information helped to increase the visibility into their supply chain, helping to eliminate some of the mystery associated with international trade at the time. By increasing their visibility, they were able to achieve greater supply chain success than any other European powers at the time.

Jump forward to today and Dutch global logistics are still topping the charts. Rotterdam is one of the busiest and most important ports in modern Europe. Amsterdam is a globally recognized business and finance center. In addition, several Dutch universities rank highly in Supply Chain and Logistics education programs. Today, about 500,000 people in the Netherlands are employed in the transportation or storage of goods. The transport and logistics industry continues to grow, with 2% growth expected in 2019. Last year, the Netherlands received a 4.07 on the Logistics Performance Index, a close second behind Germany. Since it's early domination of the global logistics market, the Netherlands has been at the forefront of the industry.

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