Director General’s Report Robert Keen
2022 presented many challenges for BIFA and its members, as outlined in other sections of this Annual Report, which highlights some of the excellent work that was undertaken in several areas. The year marked the end of an era as a new Director General for the trade association was chosen after I decided early in 2022 that it was time for a change at the top with a new person in place to lead BIFA. 31st December 2022 marked my last day as Director General after nearly eight years in the role. My passion for the industry and my privileged role in representing BIFA members had not dimmed. However, having joined the forwarding sector in 1970, 2022 marked 52 years of service to the freight industry. A good time to pass on the baton to Steve Parker, a safe pair of hands who, for the past few years, has been a non-executive director of BIFA. He was the National Chair from 2011 to 2013, so BIFA members can be assured the new Director General from 2023 knows the ethos and aims of BIFA very well. 2022 saw a continuation of the theme of post-COVID recovery and resilience, and during the year a frequent refrain we’ve heard from members, and something that I have often said, is that ‘the only thing you can expect in the supply chain is the unexpected.’ But, one thing that was entirely expected was the range of problems surrounding the replacement of CHIEF with CDS for processing Customs entries and, as of mid-November, multifaceted issues continued to face members resulting in many calls to the Secretariat asking for help and more action in our ongoing discussions with HMRC. The picture was mixed, but throughout the year many BIFA members expressed their frustration at having to use a service which they felt was more cumbersome to use, less reliable than its predecessor and added significant costs in both time and money to their operations. Clearly members did not care which part of the system was at fault, they just wanted someone to take responsibility and make sure that the service as a whole worked, and this was certainly the tone of BIFA’s significant and lengthy discussions with the relevant parts of government throughout 2022.
As the year entered its final quarter, as well as increasing costs, other trade headwinds were challenging UK businesses, with industrial action slowing goods’ transit through ports, Government IT system errors complicating already clunky trade processes, and looming public-sector worker strikes adding to day-to-day disruptions to economic activity, as well as the work of BIFA members. None of which was welcome news for those members that are, to a large extent, responsible for managing the supply chains that underpin the UK’s international goods trade. BIFA ended 2022 without some of the big changes we have been through in the recent past. Import CDS seemed to be settling down much to the relief of Robert Windsor and his team who continued to grapple with issues related to EU Exit, CDS, the Northern Ireland trading arrangements and many other legislative changes during the year. Whilst CDS for Export declarations was on the horizon, December brought the news that HMRC had postponed the deadline for that move, until 30 November 2023, eight months later than previously announced. At the time, it seemed like a good opportunity to remind readers that our online CDS training course covers not only import CDS but export CDS as well. Finally, as someone heading into partial retirement at the end of 2022, it feels like my working life has passed in the blink of an eye. The year closed with me still feeling that BIFA is an integral part of a fantastic community and although our profile is often low it’s a sign that forwarders get on with the tasks at hand quietly, under the radar, which means that we are doing the job well.
One thing that was entirely expected was the range of problems surrounding the replacement of CHIEF with CDS for processing Customs entries and, as of mid-November, multifaceted issues continued to face members resulting in many calls to the Secretariat asking for help and more action in our ongoing discussions with HMRC.
BIFA Annual Report & Accounts 2022 | bifa.org
bifa.org | BIFA Annual Report & Accounts 2022
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