BIFAlink June 2022

Robert Keen’s Column


BIFA seeks compensation for Members

BIFAlink is the official magazine of the British International Freight Association Redfern House, Browells Lane, Feltham TW13 7EP Tel: 020 8844 2266

In response to the government’s decision to postpone the next phase of the Border Operating Model, which was scheduled for implementation on 1 July, we have written to Jacob Rees-Mogg, Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, to request that a mechanism be created to compensate the trade association’s Members for the financial losses that they have incurred as a result of making investments in IT and software, staff, premises and equipment, that are most likely not now going to be required. In the letter, we make it clear that BIFA Members have done exactly what

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(A company limited by guarantee. Registered in England: 391973. VAT Registration: 216476363) Director General Robert Keen Executive Director Robert Windsor, Policy & Compliance – Surface & Legal

government requested in order to facilitate the changes that result from the Border Operating Model. The letter reminds the government of the huge contribution that the freight forwarding sector has made in keeping the UK’s trade flowing during both the recent pandemic and the implementation of the Stages 1 and 2 of the Border Operating Model. BIFA believes that some form of compensation is entirely reasonable, and we are liaising with other sector trade associations whose members have been similarly impacted. A colleague recently observed to me that looking back to March 2020, coping with new COVID-19 restrictions was a lot easier than emerging from them. We quickly adapted to the necessity of re-engineering our services and communication methods to maintain our capabilities in providing dialogue and training to our Members. An ongoing dilemma for us is the return to face-to-face meetings, either around the UK or at the regular policy group meetings regarding Customs, Air, Surface Transport or Legal matters. The widespread adoption of video conferencing using Microsoft Teams or Zoom has enabled BIFA Members to simply ‘tune in’ for technical or legislative updates without leaving the office. This has been impacted by the huge surge of work in handling the consequences of EU Exit where BIFA Members have little free time. Our goal is to develop regular UK-wide updates on the information BIFA Members need, but we are mindful that many of you are looking forward to seeing each other again and we are working on ways to facilitate this. Freight forwarding growth Staying with the impacts of COVID-19, a recent article in the publication Transport Intelligence stated that global freight forwarding had grown by over 11% in 2021, the fastest expansion in a decade. Growth was led by air forwarding, which expanded at more than double the rate of the seafreight forwarding market and was driven by strong demand for goods, as well as supply chain bottlenecks in the sea and land transport. Of course, there are clouds on the horizon with inflation, the war in Ukraine and low consumer confidence denting the prospects for 2022. Certainly, empirical evidence from many BIFA Members is that they are extremely busy and the growth in the UK is mirrored by our membership growing to yet another all-time high at the end of 2021. We still lack clear direction from government, with the recent Queen’s Speech indicating possible changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which will no doubt bring further friction. Prior to the speech, the media suggested it would include widespread initiatives to ‘digitalise trade’ but this turned out to have been a red herring with nothing of substance apparent. The problem with ‘digitising trade’ is that there is no clear definition of what it actually means – and there are significant privacy and security issues. There is a deep mistrust of parties holding data and using it for other reasons. Currently, the belief is that CDS will be the platform, but given the time that CDS has taken to reach a position to be rolled out we have no idea how long this mooted digital development will take. Finally, face-to-face socialising in our sector seems to be returning with both the London and the Glasgow Freight Clubs holding events. It was also good to see the United Kingdom Air Cargo Club (UKACC) hosting its gala ball recently with a number of club stalwarts in attendance. At this point I would like to pay tribute to a former UKACC mainstay from the 1970s, Trevor Brading, who passed away recently aged 89. Trevor was my first freight boss at Airport Courier Services in 1970 after I left school. A really great manager who educated and mentored staff without ever needing to raise his voice. To conclude, I would like to invite any reader attending the forthcoming Multimodal 2022 event to call at the trade association’s stand in the BIFA Forwarders’ Village, where representatives from the Secretariat will be happy to discuss all the issues mentioned above, and more besides. Executive Director Spencer Stevenson Executive Director Carl Hobbis Policy & Compliance Advisor – Customs Igor Popovics Policy & Compliance Advisor – Air David Stroud Editorial Co-ordinator Sharon Hammond Communications Manager Natalie Pitts Membership Supervisor Sarah Milton

Published by Park Lane Publishing Contributors

Robert Keen, Robert Windsor, David Stroud, Spencer Stevenson, Carl Hobbis, Sharon Hammond, Natalie Pitts, Igor Popovics Note to media: If you wish to use items in this magazine that are older than one month, please contact the editor to ensure that the item in question still reflects the current circumstances. Please be advised that BIFA DOES NOT OFFER LEGAL ADVICE. BIFA is not a law firm and the authors of this publication are not legally qualified and do not have any legal training. The guidance and assistance set out herein are based on BIFA’s own experience with the issues concerned and should not be in any circumstances regarded or relied upon as legal advice. It is strongly recommended that anyone considering further action based on the information contained in this publication should seek the advice of a qualified professional.

Robert Keen Director General

June 2022


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