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Huge Layoffs Likely at Kuehne+Nagel Due to Covid-19 Impact on Shipping

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Global economic disruption caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic may force Zurich, Switzerland-headquartered freight-forwarder Kuehne+Nagel to eliminate more than 20,000 jobs from its 83,000-person international workforce, with warehouse employees most affected. In business since 1890, the logistics provider has come 1,400 offices over more than 100 countries. Foodservice logistics is one of its specialties.

In a recent interview published by German newspaper Die Welt, controlling shareholder Klaus-Michael Kuehne said that as it is not possible to tell how long the downturn will last and how deep it will be, the company could end up with “20-25% fewer workers than before the crisis.”

Seeing a slowing of globalization and trend toward regionalization, Kuehne commented: “The moments of truth come in the April to June period. Transport volumes have declined significantly. The decisive question is will the world economy begin a gradual recovery in June. I expect that economic production will be lower for years to come.”

While there is no definitive proof that the a wet market in Wuhan, China is the origin of the virus has spread around the world and as of May 25 has infected more than 5.4 million people and resulted in the deaths of 345,779, Kuehne believes that there is little question that central China is the source of Covid-19 respiratory disease outbreak.

“This crisis was started by carelessness within the Chinese food supply. For me it is unbelievable such primitive conditions still exist,” he told Die Welt.