As I put together this article, the World Cup was about to start in Qatar, but not even that event is likely to revive Britain’s spirits heading into 2023, writes Robert Keen, Director General of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), with business confidence levels at their lowest since the pandemic lockdowns.

Robert Keen
Director General at BIFA

As well as increasing costs, other trade headwinds are challenging UK businesses, with industrial action slowing goods transit through ports, Government IT system errors complicating already clunky trade processes, and public-sector worker strikes that have added to day-to-day disruptions to economic activity.

All of which leads me to conclude that 2023 looks like being another year of exceptional challenges for the freight and logistics sector.

One of the big challenges of 2022 was the ongoing problems surrounding the replacement of CHIEF with CDS for processing Customs entries and as of mid-November multifaceted issues continued to face members resulting in many calls to the secretariat asking for help and more action in our ongoing discussions with HMRC.

The picture is mixed, but many BIFA members have expressed their frustration at having to use a service, which they feel is more cumbersome to use, less reliable than its predecessor and is adding significant costs in both time and money to their operations.

On a more positive note, November saw the launch of our programme called ‘Freight Development Pathway’ in partnership with Manpower, aimed at helping to identify, attract and train suitable candidates from outside of the freight forwarding and logistics for career opportunities in the sector, all part of BIFA’s initiative to address the well-documented recruitment issues that the freight and logistics sector face.

BIFA’s origins stretch as far back as the 1940s, but it was established in its current form in 1988.

BIFA represents over 1,500 UK companies in the logistics and supply chain management sector.

A not-for-profit organisation, BIFA is funded by subscriptions and run by its members for its members. It operates with a full-time Secretariat which administers and manages the Association’s affairs. BIFA members adopt a code of conduct, and trade under a nationally accepted set of Standard Trading Conditions that are backed in the insurance sector.


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