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Coronavirus 'Highlights Importance Of Freight Forwarders'

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has stated that the coronavirus outbreak has made a greater number of people aware of the importance of freight forwarders, and highlights the essential work they carry out in supply chains.

Robert Keen, director general of BIFA, stated: “In these very difficult times, the important role of the freight transport sector is taking centre stage and being recognised.”

He added that an official statement in Parliament saw the government acknowledge “that international freight services such as shipping and haulage are vital for ensuring the continuity of supply chains”.

As a result, those working on supply chains and transport systems have been designated key workers during this time, BIFA pointed out.

In addition to what it described as “the obvious candidates” of collection and delivery drivers and warehouse operatives, BIFA noted that key worker status has also been extended to customs entry clerks and others who work behind the scenes to ensure the “successful operation of supply chains”.

The organisation noted that it has been working closely with the government to organise solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the freight sector as it works to ensure that supply chains remain as normal as possible.

Among the solutions that have been implemented as a result of the coronavirus outbreak are a temporary easing of the opening hours of temporary storage facilities. The concession is designed to give temporary storage operators as much flexibility as possible.

Meanwhile, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping Bob Sanguinetti called on the government to make sure that the shipping industry is given sufficient support at this time when its services are more vital than ever.

“Shipping is the lifeblood of our nation and we must do what we can as an industry to keep our supply lines open for a strong and healthy UK,” Mr Sanguinetti asserted.

He added that shipowners would adapt to deal with the changing situation and do all in their power to ensure supply chains keep moving, but stressed the importance of having backing and support from the government during this period.

Mr Sanguinetti also revealed that the UK’s shipping industry is responsible for moving 95 per cent of the country’s trade, as well as employing 180,000 people.

An article for Handy Shipping Guide recently explained that the biggest challenges facing the global shipping freight sector are empty container repositioning and equipment imbalances at various ports.

It cited data from the Container Availability Index (CAx), which showed that containers are piling up in China, while there is a deficit in North America and Europe. In Shanghai, for instance, there were 47 per cent more containers across all the main types in port in week ten of 2020 than in the same port during this period in 2019.

By contrast, in Hamburg container figures fell by 33 per cent in week ten this year compared to the same week in 2019. 

If you’re looking for assistance from an ocean freight forwarder at this time, get in touch with us to find out more about our services and expertise.

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