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The articles are based on the latest data produced by Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis, which adds that the average delay of late vessels globally was nearly five days in September.

Global on-time performance in September was the lowest recorded this year, in which the best carriers could achieve was 77.7 per cent in June when huge amounts of capacity were blanked on the major trade lanes.

8_HMM_Algeciras _Suez

Transpacific was the worst, as a record surge in US imports from Asia clogged the southern California ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach and led to delays.

Sea-Intelligence data show Asia-US west coast trade reported on-time performance of 46.7 per cent in September, down from 62.2 per cent in August and a sharp decline from 86.7 per cent in June.

Carrier performance on the Asia-US east coast was little better, with the 49 per cent schedule reliability in September down 11.7 percentage points from August and 38 percentage points since June.

On-time performance on the Asia-North Europe trade declined 10.4 percentage points from August to 69 per cent in September, which is down from a 2020 high of 91.6 per cent in June.

Asia-Med performance was down to 68.5 per cent last month compared to 86.5 per cent in June. The backhaul Europe-to-Asia trade reported a schedule reliability of 55.8 per cent in September, down from 70.8 per cent in August.

The FMC’s decision came after six years of investigation with all actors in the supply chain, including FIATA, which concluded the likeliness of a long history of unjust and unfair demurrage and detention practices. Whilst there are country and port related variances, the FMC findings apply globally as demurrage and detention is a common and widespread topic of contention.

Screenshot _2020-10-28 FMC_Toolkit _final Pdfclick on image to see pdf

FIATA welcomes the FMC rule following years of complaints from freight forwarders that demurrage and detention practices unfairly penalized them for circumstances outside their control. Governments worldwide must have greater scrutiny over these practices to ensure that they are considerate and reasonable for the good of their own economies.

“There will be many lessons to take away from the current health crisis, one being that we must ensure the fluidity and well-functioning of the supply chain to deliver essential goods – now and beyond the pandemic,” said Dr Stephane Graber, FIATA Director General. “We hope that our members will benefit from this toolkit to accomplish precisely that, following the release of these important considerations regarding demurrage and detention.”

The FIATA FMC toolkit was developed under the guidance of the Working Group Sea Transport and is meant to empower members to promote the rule in their own countries. The toolkit includes a quick start guide; a template press release to be adapted to national contexts calling for government support of the rule; presentation slides containing information on the matter to be distributed to policymakers, regulators and industry stakeholders; and a detailed analysis document of the FMC Final Rule to be used as a key reference point to delve deeper into the different aspects of the rule, together with the original text annexed.

The FMC toolkit is a crucial step in FIATA’s commitment to play a leading role on the worldwide issue of demurrage and detention. It follows FIATA’s 2018 Best Practice Guide on Demurrage and Detention on Container Shipping, as well as subsequent press releases, where FIATA urged the FMC to provide the necessary guidance to ensure a level playing field, and supported the adoption of the incentive principle as part of the FMC’s interpretive approach.

Maritime’s tenth rail service to date commenced yesterday (26th October), and runs 5 days a week from Monday to Friday with a weekly capacity of up to 320 containers. Three existing services already run daily from EMG, including two to the Port of Felixstowe hauled by DB Cargo UK and Freightliner, and one to the Port of Southampton hauled by GB Railfreight.

Screenshot _2020-10-28 Maritime Introduces New Intermodal Rail Service From London Gateway To East Midlands Terminal

Announcing the new LGP - EMG service, Maritime’s managing director – intermodal and terminals, John Bailey, stated: "We continue to see remarkable growth in our rail volumes. We are delighted to announce this new service which opens up another transport route to the East Midlands region, and look forward to seeing the significant environmental and cost-saving benefits it will bring."

Maritime now operates or has contractual commitment on the following services:

- Felixstowe to EMG, Doncaster iPort, Hams Hall, Wakefield, Birmingham Intermodal Freight Terminal (x2); and Trafford Park

- London Gateway to Wakefield, Trafford Park, EMG, BIFT

- Southampton to Hams Hall, Wakefield, Trafford Park, EMG

Just a few weeks ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period, it has been suggested that an extra 50,000 private-sector customs agents will be needed to meet additional demands for customs clearance and a recent survey of BIFA members showed that a staggering 65 per cent feel they don’t have enough staff to cope. 

However, this surge in demand for customs-trained staff has coincided with a sharp decline in the number of apprenticeships starting this year, mainly because of Covid-19. Anecdotal evidence suggests that International Freight Forwarding Apprenticeship starts are likely to be down by 66 per cent.

Forwarding businesses will have many difficult commercial decisions to make, but shelving apprenticeships should not be one of them, BIFA firmly believes.

Director General Robert Keen argues: “It is vital to continue to recruit freight forwarding apprentices and build capacity to start equipping a new generation with the knowledge and skills to face the challenges ahead in the post Brexit and post Covid-19 world.”

The fall-off in apprenticeships is not just a freight industry problem. Government statistics show a sharp fall-off in apprenticeship starts across the entire country. The disruption caused to colleges and businesses meant many apprenticeships were unable to start or continue. However, for the freight industry the issue is even more acute because of the expected upsurge in its workload when the Brexit transition comes to an end in January.

BIFA’s Training Development Manager, Carl Hobbis said: “We are at an important crossroads and we must protect the future of the sector as we step ever closer to the end of the transition period.

He says that the International Freight Forwarding specialist apprenticeship, which BIFA helped create in 2018, is an ideal entry point for the industry with more than 430 apprentices already having taken the pathway, with great success.

The possibilities for online learning through Zoom, MS teams and similar software are virtually endless and the need for social distancing is no barrier to successful education, he adds.

Nor should available finance be an issue. Extra funding is now available as part of the government’s support scheme for training and apprenticeships, with businesses being offered £2,000 for every new under-24 apprentice they hire up to 31 January 2021. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 already provided for new 16-18 year old apprentices and those under 25 with an education, health and care plan. For those aged 25 and over, £1,500 is available.

The Covid-19 crisis will also not prevent National Apprenticeship Week from taking place on 8-14 February 2021. The annual event will shine a light on the amazing work being done by employers and apprentices across the country. Firms of all sizes will show how they have stepped up to the challenge during this unprecedented time.

Carl Hobbis concludes: “Now, more than ever we need to promote the industry and give young people employment opportunities. We have had an apprenticeship standard for international freight forwarding for nearly three years and the sector has been in the news more than ever, so what a great time to encourage someone to consider a career in forwarding and logistics.”


In the road environment the two main issues are cabotage and market access. On the 22nd October the Government made an announcement which included the comment that the web portal to apply for ECMT permits will be available for use from the 2nd November, however, no additional information was made available. 

It is still not clear in what circumstances the permit would be required, but the GOV.UK includes some useful information here

BIFA would suggest that any Member who needs such a permit monitors announcements from the DfT for further information, and BIFA will continue to provide information to Members, as applicable and when available.

Also, it is noted that Operation Brock, to control traffic flows, is being discussed and the Government has issued the following information on this subject here.


The under-25s saw the biggest rise in unemployment during lockdown, and some graduate or entry level roles have attracted thousands more applications than usual.

According to HMRC & the BBC, under-25s were more likely to be furloughed than any other age group and in the first three months of lockdown, half of eligible 16 to 24-year-olds were placed on the scheme, compared with one in four 45-year-olds.

Carl Hobbis, BIFA’s training development adds:

“As a result, there has been a stark decline in the number of apprenticeships starting this year, mostly owing to the impact of Covid-19.  Latest figures suggest that International Freight Forwarding (IFF) Apprenticeship starts are likely to be down by approximately 66 per cent.   “We are at an important crossroads and we must protect the future of the sector as we step ever closer to Brexit.

“A recent survey of BIFA members showed that a staggering 65 per cent feel they don’t have enough staff to cope with the extra demand.

“We understand as businesses struggle to regain normality and balance the books, they have a lot of difficult commercial decisions to make, but we firmly believe that shelving apprenticeships should not be one of them.   “However, it is vital to continue to recruit freight forwarding apprentices and build capacity to start equipping a new generation with the knowledge and skills to face the challenges ahead in the post Brexit and post-COVID world.   “BIFA helped create the IFF Specialist apprenticeship which went live in 2018. It has been described as an ideal entry point into the sector by industry leaders and more than 430 apprentices have already taken this pathway to great success. Whilst these number are relatively small; it is a big start from zero.

“Furthermore, protecting the future of the logistics sector is the responsibility of everyone involved, and action is needed to ensure a stable and profitable future for all. More than ever, we need industry leaders to support virtual events with schools, colleges and community groups, to promote the sector. Not enough was done in this area pre-COVID, it should be easier now, via Zoom, MS Teams etc.   “If every BIFA member – we have over 1,400 – just gave one young person an opportunity via the apprenticeship pathway, whether IFF or another standard, the difference it would make for the wider industry and its future would be huge.

“So, we urge you to do just one thing, consider giving a young person an opportunity.”   Visit BIFA’s dedicated apprenticeship website to find out more

Trade always seems to find a way, even in the most inhospitable conditions. Drewry’s latest Container Forecaster report, published at the end of September, revealed that world container port throughput confounded expectations in 2Q20 (and most probably 3Q20 too) to register a far smaller decrease than envisaged of around minus 8% year-on-year (as opposed to the anticipated 16% drop as published in June).

Read more >

Time is running out, so if you import or export between Great Britain and Europe, you need to prepare now for new processes. You need to:

  • decide how you will make customs declarations
  • act now if you intend to get someone to do your customs declarations for you, and work with that person or organisation keep your business moving from 1 January 2021
  • check if your imported goods are eligible for staged import controls

More detail can be found in the letter that HMRC have posted to over 200,000 VAT registered businesses this week, and is also published on GOV.UK.

To support businesses to get ready, HMRC has launched a series of short information videos and have a number of live webinars planned in November.

The videos include:

  • Exporting and sending goods outside of the UK
  • Importing and bringing goods into the UK
  • The customs clearance process
  • What is a customs intermediary?
  • What are controlled goods?
  • What is a commodity code?
  • How do I export?

And can be accessed here

Other useful links:

Link to handy decision trees on importing and exporting processes:

Here’s a link to our step by step guide to importing:

And a link to our step by step guide to exporting:

Twitter: @HMRCgovuk

LinkedIn: HM Revenue & Customs

From a Freight Forwarder’s perspective one of the largest potential problem areas that will stem from the increase in customs entry work, following the UK’s departure from the EU on 1 Jan 2021, relates to Representation and Establishment.

Wherever possible BIFA encourages Members, when also acting as a Customs Broker, only to undertake customs entry work as the Direct Representative of the Trader, on whose behalf they are preparing customs declarations. To act as a Direct Representative a Customs Broker must be empowered by the Trader on whose behalf they are acting, and that trader must be ‘Established’ in the United Kingdom.

Many Members have enquired what is meant by the term ‘Established or Establishment’. It is not an official Customs term, but a Corporate term, and the following link highlights the meaning of this definition




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