Government policy and legislative changes are likely to create the biggest challenges for freight forwarders this year, according to the British International Freight Association (BIFA).
The trade association said that these factors would see its members continuing to face numerous challenges in 2016, rather than economic issues.
The two major impacts from legislation would be the implementation of the Union Customs Code (UCC) and an amendment to the Safety Of Life At Sea convention (SOLAS), according to BIFA director general Robert Keen.
The UCC is being introduced across the European Union in May 2016 and will affect rules on how goods cross EU borders. They will include mandatory guarantees to cover potential customs fees, the need for all communications between customs authorities and economic operators to electronic, and the ending of certain reliefs.
The amendment to SOLAS, which will come into force in July, will require the verification of the gross mass of containers prior to loading.
Keen said there was still significant confusion about the implications of these changes and the association would continue to hold events to brief members.
He also added that the disruption at the Channel Tunnel last year, which had a significant impact on freight forwarders that use the crossing for their European overland haulage operations, looked likely to continue this year.
“BIFA has repeatedly called for government action to address the problems being caused by the would-be illegal immigrants attempting to stowaway on trucks,” said Keen.
“We will continue to press the authorities in France and the UK to step up their protection of the routes across the Channel and fulfil their obligations to let trade move unhindered on this strategic freight route."
BIFA said although it welcomed the freeze in fuel duty last year and the planned investment in the UK’s road infrastructure, it was dismayed at the delay in a decision on the expansion of airport capacity in the south east. It hoped the government would not let party political issues continue to stop progress on this crucial issue in 2016.
Keen said that another important issue for BIFA members this year would be education and training.
“BIFA will continue our work to make more comprehensive educational material available to BIFA Members online,” said Keen. “We have wrestled with this topic for the past few years and have an emerging strategy, which will become clear as 2016 goes on.”