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International Forwarding Association Blog »

Unraveling Waste in Warehousing: Implications for Freight Forwarders

The backbone of effective supply chains, warehousing operations, often host various forms of waste. These wasteful practices, including excessive inventory, waiting time, inefficient transportation, and over-processing, pose operational challenges that directly impact the performance and efficiency of freight forwarders.   The Consequences of Excessive Inventory In the warehousing context, excessive inventory involves overstocking goods beyond demand requirements. This results in storage constraints as well as high warehousing costs due to additional handling and associated labor costs. For freight forwarders, an overstocked warehouse could mean a limitation on the number of goods that can be accommodated before their forwarding to the… Read more

Key Factors Influencing Freight Forwarding in Europe

Freight forwarding plays a key role in facilitating trade and ensuring the efficient movement of goods across borders. Within Europe, several factors influence the freight forwarding industry, including geographical location and infrastructure, regulatory framework and customs procedures, market competition, and environmental sustainability. Understanding these factors is crucial for strategic decision-making, compliance, enhanced efficiency, market expansion, and environmental responsibility.   Geographical Location and Infrastructure Europe’s strategic geographical location serves as a gateway for global trade, connecting the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The continent’s extensive network of ports, airports, railways, and roadways provides efficient transportation and connectivity within Europe and with the… Read more

Navigating International Trade Agreements: Implications for European Freight Forwarding

International trade agreements have a significant impact on the European freight forwarding industry, shaping the landscape in which businesses operate. Navigating these agreements is important for freight forwarders as they influence trade flows, customs procedures, tariffs, and market access. The main important trade agreements with implications for IFA members are the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, European Free Trade Association Agreements, and European Union-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.   Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) CETA is a landmark trade agreement between the European Union and Canada, which aims to strengthen economic ties and enhance trade… Read more

Challenges Freight Forwarders Face During Customs Clearance

Customs clearance can be a challenging and complex process for European freight forwarders, due to a number of reasons. From tariffs and duties and compliance requirements to documentation, there are many challenges to navigating and moving cargo across borders.   Tariffs and Duties Customs clearance often entails the payment of taxes, duties, and tariffs, which can vary greatly depending on the country of origin, type, quality, and value of goods, trade agreements, and diplomatic relations. Dealing with tariffs and duties can be a daunting process, making it important to conduct extensive research. For example, you’ll need to find out how… Read more

The Role of Freight Forwarders in Mitigating Supply Chain Risks

As the global economy becomes more complex, supply chain risk is on the rise. With globalization and the growing number of customers and suppliers, supply chains are longer and more intricate, making them vulnerable to a variety of security and logistics risks. These risks include cyber threats, economic instability, natural disasters, and political unrest, among others. To help mitigate them, freight forwarders play a critical role in developing strategies that reduce risks and ensure the smooth flow of goods.   Cybersecurity Risks The key to managing cyber threats is implementing robust cybersecurity measures such as introducing secure digital platforms, strict… Read more

Benefits of Using a Local Freight Forwarder for International Shipping

International shipping can be a complex process due to factors such as time zones, language barriers, and regulatory and customs compliance. This is especially true for businesses that are new to importing and exporting. One of the main decisions they should make is whether to work with a global or local logistics provider. While global operators have more resources and manpower as well as extensive networks, using a local freight forwarder also offers a number of benefits. From local expertise and personalized support to greater flexibility and faster response times, here are some benefits to pairing with a local logistics… Read more

Ways to Achieve Compliance with Trade Agreements and Regulations in European Logistics

With multiple laws, regulations, and international trade agreements, the European logistics industry is highly regulated, meaning that certain certifications, insurance coverage, and shipping documents are required to move goods across borders. Compliance is key to avoiding reputational risks, delivery delays, and penalties. At the same time, compliance can help freight forwarders gain a competitive edge and enhance customer satisfaction. Understandably, IFA members are increasingly leveraging trade agreements by staying updated, implementing robust programs, building relationships with customs authorities, and using automation.   Stay Updated Staying up-to-date with changes in regulations involves monitoring trade restrictions, sanctions, export controls, and customs laws…. Read more

Leveraging AI to Streamline Operations, Mitigate Risk, and Improve Customer Service

The freight forwarding industry is faced with a number of logistics challenges, including cooperation with various stakeholders, customs clearance, and optimizing transportation routes, to name a few. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in implementing AI technologies to improve cost-effectiveness, safety, and efficiency and enhance the customer experience. European freight forwarders are increasingly leveraging artificial intelligence for risk management, streamlining operations, and customer service.   Streamlining Operations Leveraging predictive analytics and big data, artificial intelligence can analyze market trends, historical data, and factors such as trade regulations, holidays, and weather conditions, helping forwarders to forecast service demand…. Read more

Types of Cargo Insurance Available to Freight Forwarders

Moving goods across distances can be a complex process, with cargo often being shipped across international borders. The International Forwarding Association members make every effort to reduce risks, including damage and loss, but unexpected risks and accidents may occur. For this reason, it is important that logistics companies become familiar with the various types of coverage that can help protect them against financial loss. Common policies to look into are air, maritime, road, and rail cargo insurance.   Air Cargo Air cargo insurance offers coverage for damage and loss of goods due to improper loading and packaging and during unloading… Read more

From Supply Chain Disruptions to Sustainability: Challengers Forwarders Face

In an increasingly globalized, hyper-connected world, managing the flow of goods can be both challenging and complicated. Some common challenges that European logistics businesses face include supply chain disruptions, changing market conditions, environmental sustainability, and communication and collaboration with multiple parties.   Supply Chain Disruptions Supply chain disruptions can occur for a number of reasons, including labor strikes, political unrest, and natural disasters. Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters can cause power outages and damage to transportation infrastructure, resulting in delays and costs for freight forwarders. Political instability in the form of government changes and civil unrest can lead… Read more

Sustainability in Freight Forwarding: How Shipping Companies Are Working to Minimize Their Environmental Impact

As the Earth’s population continues to grow and trade volumes increase, shipping companies are faced with pressure to adopt sustainability practices and minimize their environmental impact. European freight forwarders and IFA members, in particular, have an important role to play in a variety of initiatives aimed at promoting sustainability in their operations. Prominent examples are green freight initiatives, optimizing supply chain operations, using intermodal transport, and making warehousing and other facilities more environmentally friendly.   Green Initiatives European and international freight forwarding companies are increasingly joining green initiatives to reduce their emissions. These initiatives include setting targets, measuring and reporting,… Read more

Safety Risks When Shipping Cargo by Plane

Shipping cargo by plane can be an efficient, safe, and quick way to move goods but there are some risks to be aware of, including human error, extreme weather, turbulence, cargo fires, and shipping hazardous materials. In some cases, a combination of factors may influence outcomes, such as extreme weather, communication problems between the crew and the airport, and pilot error.   Extreme weather   Bad weather such as heavy snowfall, high winds, and thunderstorms can cause cancellations and delays. Thunderstorms, in particular, can produce heavy rain, hail, high winds, and lighting, all of which can cause damage to cargo… Read more

Maritime Fraud, Types, Costs, and Ways to Combat Smuggling

Maritime fraud is common and can occur virtually everywhere, from warehouses and company offices to onboard commercial ships. The trafficking of illicit or unmanifested cargo involves the smuggling of prohibited articles by suppliers, stevedores, agents, surveyors, and even ship superintendents, senior deck officers, and engineers. Such smuggling of cargo exposes carriers to reputational, financial, and legal risks and is a serious problem both, at land and on sea.   Types of Illegal Cargo Vessels may carry cargo that fraudsters want to keep undetected. Such items include products that are adulterated, counterfeited, or falsified, including construction materials, electronics, alcohol, and pharmaceuticals…. Read more

Fire Onboard Ships: Causes and Consequences

Fires on board cargo and passenger’s vessels lead to damages and loss of lives each year. While safety is paid attention to during construction and design, the incidence of fires onboard ships has not improved.   Why Incidents Occur The incidence of fires onboard container ships continues to grow, and the larger a vessel is, the higher the risk of fire. Reports show that over the last 5 years, more than 70 fire incidents occurred onboard container vessels. Fires in the cargo area of Ro-Ro/car and container ships have been a major topic of debate. Lines shipping battery-powered electric vehicles… Read more

Cargo Damage, Types and Impact

Insurers are dealing with cargo claims on a regular basis, the main contributory cause being bad stowage. With millions of containers in global circulation, this can be a serious issue for carriers. While bad stowage is a major cause, there are plenty of other reasons for cargo claims.   Reasons for Damage About 11 percent of containers get lost overboard, 14 percent of damages occur due to incorrect temperature, and 25 percent are physical. Also, 8 percent is a shortage and 9 percent is theft-related, respectively.   Common reasons for damage include a poor condition or wrong choice of container,… Read more

Shipping Alliances and Benefits for Carriers and Forwarders

Carriers often choose to form shipping alliances to benefit from competitive prices and wider service coverage. Such alliances are cooperative agreements that seek to utilize fleet space in the most efficient way rather than operate their own fleets separately.   How do Alliances work? The main areas of cooperation are problem-solving, scheduling, vessel assignment, and stowage planning. Partners also discuss things like operational efficiencies, capacity, types of fuel used, and environmental issues. At the same time, agreements do not cover joint asset ownership, pricing, marketing, or sales.     Other Forms of Collaboration The two other forms of collaboration between… Read more

Commonly Shipped Goods That May Present Safety Hazards

There are some types of cargo that can present potential safety hazards and should be subject to risk assessment before shipping. Such items may contain mercury, gases under pressure, or hazardous chemicals that bear health and safety risks if they spill, break, drop, or come in contact with another substance.   What Items Are Considered Hazardous Hazardous items range from ordinary goods like nail polish, liquor, and hair spray to dangerous substances such as toxic materials and gases. Toxic and infectious substances, for instance, include items carrying fungi, viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens, that can cause harm, injury, or death…. Read more

Regulations and Challenges when Shipping from Europe to Africa

If it is the first time you’re shipping from a European to an African country, there can be a level of uncertainty and unfamiliarity involved. Different countries have imposed different customs rules and regulations, with some challenges like strict regulatory regimes on imported goods.   Technical Regulations A number of countries across Africa have imposed import regulations, including Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Botswana, among others. The main idea of establishing regulations is to ensure product quality and protect the plant, animal, and human health and life. Under the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement, states have the right… Read more

Regulations and Rules for Shipping to the Middle East

Whether shipping for a small retailer, mid-sized business, or a multinational corporation, there are some specifics to learn about when exporting goods to Middle East markets. To help you get started, here are some regulations and paperwork required when shipping goods to your target markets.   Import Regulations Most countries in the region require that shippers present a Certificate of Origin, along with packing lists, commercial invoices, bills of lading or waybills, and insurance coverage. When shipping to the United Arab Emirates and Oman, freight forwarders need to present a Certificate of Origin for items valued over $100. For Qatar,… Read more

Guide to Shipping Antique Items

Antiques are among the most valuable items that customers ship, whether bought from specialized dealers, auction houses, or flea markets or passed down through generations. As they have а financial and sentimental value, leaving them behind or selling them is usually not an option. And whether shipping for individual customers, estate distributors, auction houses, or dealers, there are some details to consider when moving antiques long distances.   Types of Antiques Freight forwarders ship a wide range of antique items, including dressers and chests, curio cabinets, secretary desks, and mirrors. Other items include: Glass and porcelain items Family heirlooms Clocks… Read more