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Forwarders ready for the challenge

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) recently held its second Business Leaders Forum, bringing together senior personnel from various BIFA member companies and fostering critical discussions on the freight forwarding and logistics industry’s imminent challenges.

Steve Parker, BIFA’s Director General, opened proceedings by providing insights into the key issues affecting the industry in the short, medium and long term.

The first guest speaker, Aidan Reilly, Director of Customs Policy and Strategy at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), highlighted the significant changes expected at the border driven by the government’s commitment to establish a Single Trade Window. Commending BIFA and its members for their collaboration with HMRC over the years, Reilly stressed that HMRC’s recent engagement had been proactive in regards to the delivery of new systems and procedures, and would continue to be so. He also welcomed the challenges presented by BIFA and the industry in their engagement through BIFA’s Customs Policy Group and the Joint Customs Consultative Committee, of which BIFA is a member.

The forum also covered the potential impact of various disruptions on the Customs environment, including BTOM, CDS Exports, Windsor Framework, and the Single Trade Window.The complex issues of Indirect and Direct representation and establishment were also discussed.

Parker stressed the importance of training in adhering to standards such as AEO accreditation and the government’s voluntary standards, announcing BIFA’s plans to provide more training opportunities in 2024. While not discussed during the presentations, attendees did voice their concerns about environmental regulations affecting the shipping and transport industry. These regulations are expected to increase costs, with shipping companies required to purchase and surrender ETS allowances for their ships’ emissions, starting in 2024.

The inclusion of maritime emissions in the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2024 has prompted ocean shipping companies to issue guidance on expected ETS surcharges, which may affect freight rates. This may impact the cost of shipping and, consequently, the cost of finished goods and potentially influencing decarbonisation efforts. The ETS allowances for shipping emissions will be implemented in phases, covering 100 per cent of emissions on intra-EU journeys and 50 per cent of emissions for journeys between EU and non-EU ports. By 2027, carriers will be responsible for 100 per cent of emissions generated in 2026 and beyond. For those seeking more information, keep an eye out for news about the next BIFA Business Leaders Forum, expected to take place in early spring 2024.

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