The recovery under way in global economic growth has encouraged logistics firm DHL to launch an investment plan that earmarks Hong Kong as a key distribution centre for the region, says Paul Graham, the chief executive of DHL Supply Chain Asia Pacific. 'The market in the fourth quarter of last year and the first two months of this year has made us quite positive,' Graham said. The firm will continue to increase its investment in the Asia-Pacific after it committed earlier this month to invest HK$360 million in building a multipurpose distribution warehouse in Tsing Yi. DHL last year announced it would open 10 new transport hubs on the mainland. The company had noted an improvement in shipment demand and turnover over the past few months, Graham said in an interview with the South China Morning Post. But while customers are expressing greater confidence about the outlook for their businesses, a full recovery in the global economy is still some time off and DHL is therefore cautiously optimistic about the signs. Graham said the firm's supply chain business in the Asia-Pacific was 'ahead of the curve' since half of its revenues in the region came from domestic transport and many Asian countries, led by the mainland and India, were registering economic growth. DHL believes that investing in talent is as important as investing in infrastructure, he said, particularly in the Asia-Pacific where few people regard the logistics industry as a natural career path. Growth was curbed due to the resulting shortage in talent, he said. 'We must compete for young university graduates and this is very challenging as the industry is not a favoured career path for Asians, unlike in Europe or in the [United States],' he said. 'We have to change this mindset. We have to tell them we are not just a labour-intensive and a low-technology industry.' DHL sponsored a number of tertiary courses in logistics on the mainland and in India as well as setting up booths at university open days. In addition to skilled labour shortages, rising rental costs have also affected DHL's expansion, said Graham, but he said the opening of the Interlink building in Hong Kong in 2012, in which DHL has a long-term rental commitment to take 25 per cent of the floor area, could mitigate the problem of rental costs. Since warehouse rental rates in Hong Kong are volatile the investment will provide DHL with a more predictable cost base and secure enough space for it to grow, he said. Predictions that the recall of Toyota cars sold in the US may boost demand for the shipment services provided by companies such as DHL has not materialised, Graham said. More than six million vehicles sold in the US were recalled by Toyota. However, it turned out that software issues were behind the problems and there was little demand for shipping parts or components, Graham said.