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Logistics

FFFAI applauds commerce, shipping, aviation ministries and customs for efforts amid lockdown

May 31, 2020: Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI)  commended the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Indian Customs for their efforts to maintain logistics and supply chain at this crisis time during a webinar on May 29.

Future will be throwing a larger challenge: retention of business, contracting volumes, shrinking margins, expanding expenses, financial strains, credit terms, servicing debts and unpaid services.
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Future will be throwing a larger challenge: retention of business, contracting volumes, shrinking margins, expanding expenses, financial strains, credit terms, servicing debts and unpaid services.

May 31, 2020: Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI) commended the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Indian Customs for their efforts to maintain logistics and supply chain at this crisis time during a webinar on May 29.

The webinar was organised in association with International Federation of Freight Forwarders (known as FIATA).

FFFAI is one of the members of FIATA which is the International body of logisticians and represents the industry in prestigious bodies such as United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nation Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), World Customs Organisation, World Bank, World Trade Organisation, International Chamber of Commerce and others.

A V Vijaykumar, chairman, FFFAI said “We will, as have been our approach and past experiences, overcome with no damage. But the reality of the possible damage it could inflict on human life and the human race changed the complexion of handling the pandemic on a global scale.”

Bouncing back
Vijaykumar was confident of bouncing back. “Globally there is no exception to economic impact, but we are known for our resilience and hence will overcome this attack also,” he said. The FFFAI Chairman, however, made a caution too. In his opinion future will be throwing a larger challenge – retention of business, contracting volumes, shrinking margins, expanding expenses, financial strains, credit terms, servicing debts, unpaid services and much more. “It is not that we are new to such environment but it just that we are to again rediscover ourselves. Tough times manifest the strength in us,” he emphasized.

“There were a total lockdown and life came to a standstill. But we compliment the Government that within a day they listened to our voices and agreed open the doors for the supply chain. On the third day of lockdown, international transport of cargo – export or import – was treated as essential and members of FFFAI were in the forefront of supporting the movement of cargo for the nation,” he pointed out.

Indian Customs
Further mentioning the government’s quick and pro-active intervention Vijaykumar stated that Indian Customs rolled digital solutions at an amazing speed. “In fact, by the time the first phase of lockdown could end on April 14, 2020, we had a fully electronically driven Customs platform. This enabled seamless, paperless, contactless transaction of cargo clearance. Other than physical handling of cargo rest was fully automated and implemented thereby literally maintaining real social distancing. We need to recognize and we do recognize the efforts of Indian Customs to have stretched our limits beyond normal and to have literally worked 24 x 7,” he added.

Ministry of Shipping
Vijaykumar also applauded the Ministry of Shipping’s effective efforts in lessening the burden on Exim trade. Ministry of Shipping instructed all Ports, Terminals to evacuate the containers to outside facilities to ensure the creation of any congestion. Round the clock, the Ports, the Container Freight Stations and Customs Brokers joined hands and methodically moved the containers to off-dock Customs facilities. Thus, congestion at Ports and Terminals were eliminated. Ports also pursued with local authorities for all stakeholders to be accorded priority passes and facilities to keep the supply chain moving. The Ministry also advised Ports, Terminals and all Custodians to be supportive and waive all penal charges during lockdown to ease the financial pressure on the industry.

Ministry of Civil Aviation
The air cargo custodians were also advised by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to waive storage charges. Commerce Ministry played a nodal role in connecting the stakeholder requirements and expectation with the related government authorities to balance the situation.

Freight forwarding: an essential service
Basil Pieterson, president, FIATA applauds the inclusion of freight forwarding within many nation’s definitions of ‘essential services’. “However, more needs to be done. Greater consistency in global responses, together with the implementation of facilitative measures, are required to ensure the continuance of well-functioning supply chains to move essential goods to where they are most needed throughout this crisis and beyond,” he stressed.

He pointed out to the facts that the fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has fuelled a host of measures by governments worldwide mandating the closure of many aspects of societal daily life and restrictions to the movement of people. In many countries, only certain designated ‘essential services’ are still permitted to remain in operation. However, there remains no coordinated worldwide approach, and definitions of what is an ‘essential service' may vary.

In his speech Pieterson also elaborated on Global Perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on Logistics Industry including empowering the freight forwarding community in these difficult times, compliances, required support from government and industry stakeholders, increasing digitalization, skilling, WTO trade facilitation, rebounding national economy and survival of freight forwarders & logistics industry.


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