On August 28, 2023, the International Federation of Customs Brokers (IFCBA) held a virtual Board of Directors meeting, representing numerous countries at various stages of global trade facilitation, from Angola to Uruguay!
IFCBA Chairman, Mr. Shankar Shinde, who is also the Chairman of the Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI), opened the meeting by welcoming IFCBA directors and past chairs from many regions of the world. Mr. Shinde identified three areas of importance to him and asked all directors to bring ideas and action to support these areas.
First, increasing membership in the IFCBA will bring benefits to those associations and companies who join IFCBA. One of the objectives of the IFCBA is to share information about best practices in member countries, and to provide a platform for networking by customs brokers. A membership recruitment campaign of national associations and companies is underway!
A second priority is the nurturing of the next generation of customs brokers. This goal is also shared by the World Customs Organization(WCO) and is key to the prosperity of IFCBA’s member countries moving forward.
Finally, attention to Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) and Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) is key to trade facilitation and promotion of the efficient flow of goods and services across borders. Customs brokers are key players as AEOs in supply chains, and as communication hubs to encourage and enable clients to attain AEO status.
“The Customs Brokers business across the world is undergoing rapid changes with disruption of emerging technologies and digital/faceless mechanisms. We must be prudent to the changes in the horizon, and this can be attained with exchange of ideas for mutual benefits. IFCBA not only provides an effective platform to the CB community to connect with the world of wisdom but also acts as a vigilant on international Customs matters, intervening/collaborating with the policy decisions of different Governments. We at IFCBA appeal to the world Customs fraternity to get them prepared for coping with the threat to the traditional CB business. Under this umbrella organisation they should also be united to strengthen trade facilitation, i.e. smooth cargo clearance across the borders,” said Mr. Shinde.
During the meeting, IFCBA past chairman and director from Mexico Mr. Jamie King provided an update on the activities of the WCO Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG). Mr, King is the current Chair of the PSCG, which was especially active in advising the WCO on concerns and solutions during the COVID pandemic.
IFCBA directors provided individual reports on the state of customs brokers and trade in their respective countries. There was considerable alignment of priorities and commentary, including the following common issues around the globe:
-the need to attract the younger generation to this industry;
-the need for professional education and professional development standards that support the complex work of customs brokers.
-increasing government regulation and expectations of investments by customs brokers with increasingly diminished returns.
There is no doubt that the issues facing customs brokers globally are pressing, yet the collective voices, ideas and energy within the IFCBA are encouraging and the willingness to work together on common goals is impressive. Whether you are a national customs brokers association or a customs broker business, join the IFCBA’s global network and watch for information about new developments, including the announcement of the location of our 2024 conference.