10 November 2014

Freight Forwarders Forum 2014 debates the Future of Logistics


CLECAT, policy makers and industry stakeholders identified challenges and opportunities for logistics at Freight Forwarders Forum which took place on 6 November at the Headquarters of the World Customs Organisation in Brussels.

The first part of the Forum debated how the European Commission can provide the right framework conditions to support logistic service providers and enable them to further grow and safeguard the EU competitive position in the global market.

Mr Sandro Santamato, Head of Unit for Maritime Transport and Logistics at the European Commission, told attendees that "the political priorities of the new European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, are very relevant to the logistics sector. If Europe wants a strong manufacturing industry, it needs to be well integrated into the global economy with access to consumer and import markets. The logistics sector is central to this."

MEP Ms Gesine Meissner supported this and expressed her commitment to give logistics the much needed visibility in the European parliament; accounting for more than 10% of Europe's GDP, the logistics sector is a key driver for the European economy.

Jeroen Eijsink, CEO of DHL Freight Germany, highlighted that the completion of the Single Market and connectivity with the rest of the world will boost logistics. 'A successful logistics sector would, in turn, bring greater connectivity and greater prosperity to Europe,' Mr Eijsink added.

The holistic approach announced by the European Commission was welcomed by Marc Huybrechts, President of CLECAT, who stressed that "a more holistic debate has great value, as the logistics sector covers all modes. Therefore we need a more integrated longer-term strategy for logistics, based on realistic scenarios for the 2015-2030 period.' In agreement on the challenge to freight forwarders, both SME's and large LSP's to become highly connected at all levels, he also thought that this industry is and will remain a people's business.

The second panel on "digitalisation and supply chain visibility to improve efficiencies in the supply chain" discussed the benefits and challenges in moving from paper to electronic notification and documentation and how this would facilitate trade. Panellists agreed that digitalisation will allow transport and logistics stakeholders to integrate their operations more cost-effectively, manage the complexities of their supply chains more efficiently, and improve asset utilization and facilitate reporting to customs and other agencies.

Innovation and vision from freight forwarders and customs was demonstrated by David Hesketh, Senior Business Manager at HM Revenue and Customs, UK and Tom Fernihough from Metro Shipping LTD. In the UK data pipeline solutions are growingly successful, they are commercially sustainable and both industry and customs are very excited about them.

Nicolette van der Jagt, Director General of CLECAT, concluded: "The role of freight forwarders is moving increasingly in the direction of that of data and compliance integrators. New technologies driven by higher data volumes will clearly affect operations in the future and require change from all involved in the supply chain. More efficient logistics will not come without considerable research and innovation efforts. CLECAT will continue to support the new research and innovation fund – Horizon 2020, which will equally have an important role to play."

Speakers included Prof. Dr. J. Rod Franklin, Adjunct Professor of Logistics, Kühne Logistics University; Sandro Santamato, Head of Unit for Maritime Transport and Logistics, DG MOVE, European Commission; Jeroen Eijsink, CEO DHL Freight Germany; Gesine Meissner, MEP; Astrid Schlewing, Head of Sector Logistics, DG MOVE, European Commission; Yves Fargues, President, TLF; Frank Knoors, Managing Director, Logit One NV; Nik Delmeire, Secretary General, European Shippers Council; Donald Tan, Technical Officer, World Customs Organisation; David Hesketh, Senior Business Manager at HM Revenue and Customs, UK; Tom Fernihough, Senior Operations Manager, Metro Shipping Ltd and Hans Driessen, Director International Trade, Océ-Technologies.

Presentations are available on the CLECAT website.