DHL CEO Appel says ‘Protectionism is the wrong path’

Frank Appel addressing DHL's Annual General Meeting

Deutsche Post-DHL Group CEO Frank Appel joined industry leaders in denouncing the economic policy of protectionism in a speech delivered at the company’s annual general meeting this week, calling it “the wrong path, no matter where it is or what form it takes.”

Many industry members – including CEO of Alibaba, Jack Ma, and the founder and chairman of FedEx, Fred Smith – have been outspoken about the stress that protectionist policies will bring to international trade, namely the impending trade war between the U.S. and China over threatened tariffs on certain goods and the ensuing chaos between the U.K. and E.U.-countries caused by Brexit.

Regardless of the current state of international trade, the DHL Group is still celebrating its “best results in the history of the company,” boasting a 7.2 percent increase in earnings, before interest and taxes (EBIT), to €3.74 billion and a 5.4 percent increase in revenue to €60.4 billion in 2017.

Appel, who was named Air Cargo Executive of the Year by this magazine in at the end of 2016, said that growth in e-commerce was a key factor in boosting EBIT and revenue and plans to continue to capitalize on it, looking into 2018 and beyond. In light of the positive financial outlook, the company also proposed a dividend increase of 10 cents (or 9.5 percent) to the current value of $1.15 per share that will be effective by the end of April.

Appel affirmed his stance on trade policy with a nod to a familiar neo-political symbol: “Walls are not the solution. We want to make tomorrow better than today. To achieve this, we need to grow together even more.”

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