The petrochemicals and logistics sectors have been some of the most exposed industries in Latin America and across the world during the past 13 months. Both critical to the region’s economies, they faced substantial headwinds in the early months of the pandemic, such as closed borders and strict measures on industrial operations. For petrochemicals and chemical firms, the immediate impact has been mixed, with some segments benefitting from their client industries – such as agriculture and medicine – while others experienced sharp drops in demand – particularly in automotive production. For logistics operations, the challenges mounted even before the series of lockdowns in March 2020, largely due to disruptions since January throughout the global hub of manufacturing, China. As borders closed and flights got cancelled, the industry was forced to optimise its operations through better planning and more strategic use of digital technology.
Looking forwards, environmental and efficiency concerns will likely shape the strategic framework for both sectors. Many petrochemicals and chemical companies have set targets for reducing emissions, while many logistics operators are contemplating the use of more efficient modes of transport to reduce costs and emissions. Challenges for both sectors lie in the final part of the distribution chain where last-mile challenges account for the majority of problems and costs.