What is the state of the market in Latin America?

Latin America has, undoubtedly, a challenging year ahead considering that many countries are facing economic uncertainty and political instability with consequences of investment freezes and project postponements.

Brazil has a major role in this economic scenario due to recent uncertainties and challenges related to looming new fiscal measures that may diminish investor confidence and investment from big business and industry, and impact the investment and credit markets. 

In the RoRo segment, current figures show that plants in Latin America are using only 50 percent of total production capacity. That means there is a lot of room for growth as the markets heats up again.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing shippers and carriers in the Latin American markets?

Companies need to focus on improving their performance, reducing costs and optimizing production. The U.S. dollar exchange rate fluctuation has forced some automakers to reduce imports and invest more in local sourcing of parts and components.

Also, new regulations in some countries, like recent measures announced by Ecuador, have led manufacturers to adapt to current conditions or adjust their plans. Keeping production steady is one of the biggest challenges facing manufacturers. The good news is that, looking ahead, some major automakers are investigating the impact and potential of shifting some car model production to South America.

Shippers are also following the global trend for setting high targets for reducing logistics costs.

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for WWL?  

There is great opportunity to help our customers reduce end-of-chain costs by using our integrated logistic expertise around the world.

In land-based business, we have been enhancing inland transportation and building loads by optimizing carriage capacity in national distribution for customers.

Regarding High & Heavy cargo, great potential exists in investments in urban mobility announced by some countries such as Chile and Colombia—mainly in the form of importing passenger buses and rail projects. There is also an export increase movement starting in Bolivia and Paraguay—still relatively small markets but with good growth potential.

Project cargo is a focus for Latin America and, aligned with WWL’s global strategy, we have been strongly pursuing this customer segment.

What key developments will emerge and impact business in Latin America in the next few years?

We need to consider the investment projects taking place and production relocations announced by automakers; particularly in Brazil, where both new plants as well as factory extensions and upgrades will account for investments of more than USD 10 billion in the next five years.

We also see great interest from traditionally container-focused terminals to develop RoRo capabilities—giving RoRo carriers more options to service South America. A good example of port infrastructure development can be seen at Puerto Bahia in Cartagena, Colombia, which will soon start arranging for exclusive RoRo berth priority for WWL vessels. 

What is important to know about WWL in Latin America?

WWL has been operating in Brazil for more than 15 years. In 2012, WWL incorporated in Brazil and re-established its offices in São Paulo and at the port of Santos, where more than 30 employees support customers in Port Operations, Customer Care & Documentation, Sales, Finance and Supply Chain Solutions/Land Based activities.

We manage ocean shipments from our most important corporate accounts such as Caterpillar, CNH, Volvo, Komatsu, John Deere, Daimler Chrysler and Volkswagen. For inland-based services, we have yard management contracts as well as managing inland distribution of finished products, in some cases as part of larger Supply Chain Solution contract.

In addition to a strong Brazilian presence, WWL also has strong seafreight contracts for service on the West Coast of South America and Colombia, mainly for automobiles. The Intra South, Central American and Caribbean markets are also fairly strong, and WWL maintains long-term agent partnerships in many of those countries.

What inspires you? And how does it impact your business and managerial style?

Every day presents new challenges and this serves as my main inspiration on daily business. 

We are fortunate to have an enthusiastic and committed team—WWL and our agents across Latin America—and they have clear understanding of our goals and are extremely focused in achieving success!

I appreciate the challenge of transforming a bright idea into a successful venture. Indeed, it is exciting to come to work and find all there is to create, transform and implement. Being around so many interesting customers, colleagues, products and services drives my day.

I also enjoy sharing my findings with the team as well as learning from them. Together, the group becomes more than just the sum of people, much more.