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Clear Road Ahead for Freight Forwarding in India: Chairman, FFFAI

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“I find no reason for the industry to not grow to a greater high, with all government regulations taken care of”

In Conversation with S. Ramakrishna, Chairman, FFFAI

FFFAI is an organisation continuously working in the favour of freight forwarders, traders and industry handlers helping them establish their foot and strengthen the country’s economy.

Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI) is the Apex Body and the Sole Representative of 28 Member Associations from all over India representing 6500 Customs Brokers and employing over 1,00,000 people. In addition, the organisations which are directly or indirectly connected with freight forwarding, shipping and commerce are also associated with FFFAI.

S. Ramakrishna is the unanimously elected chairman of FFFAI. His prime focus has been to achieve MSME Status for Indian Customer Brokers and Freight Forwarders. According to him, sticking to government rules and regulations, having good knowledge of one’s skill set is what will make great industry professionals of the nation. The FFFAI has been working continuously without any weariness to supply the nation with well-trained and skilled Logistics Professionals. In an interview to LogisticsInsider, he talks about the tireless efforts of FFFAI to ease out processes for the freight forwarding community. Excerpts:

Many freight forwarders are said to be struggling to cope with the changing dynamics of the business in the post GST era. What measures is the FFFAI taking to improve the situation for freight forwarders in the country?

Any new policy, especially if it pertains to tax compliances, makes ripples on an apparently calm surface, i.e. usual/traditional business practices. The aftermath of the implementation of the much desired GST too was not an exception. Initially, there were a lot of misconceptions and confusions among all sections of industry and business communities. Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders, in particular, had to confront multiple issues owing to the lack of clear understanding and awareness about the new introduction and at the same time radical changes in the tax mechanism. From the very beginning, FFFAI was in constant discussions with its members, organised seminars/knowledge sessions in various cities took feedback regarding pain points and passed it on to the GST Council from time to time. It is commendable that the GST Incharge through its series of amendments to the original GST Announcements made transactions easy going now. However, FFFAI has decided to keep the process (knowledge sessions) continuing. In its EC Meetings, FFFAI has been regularly organising knowledge sessions on GST and other issues, which are being conducted by domain experts like Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan, SK Kanodia & Associates etc.

Will the Indian logistics industry be impacted by the looming tension of trade war between the US and China? If yes, how would it impact the Indian freight forwarding market?

Indian logistics companies might not be impacted so much because of the prevailing trade tension between China and the USA. Global (including India) dependency on China’s products is so high that movements of goods cannot be stopped overnight. However, the dynamics of Indian Freight Forwarders as a community and great adaptability for the changes in quickest manner is our forte and we would fathom out any exigency or eventuality.

How much impact the ongoing Jet airways crisis has created on the Indian freight forwarding business?

There is a certain amount of disruption because of the termination of Jet Airways’ all international flights at the peak time of this season. However, there has not been a huge impact because of the availability of space in other carriers. We hope, with the intervention from the Government of India, Jet Airways would be able to start its smooth international operations soon.

After your appointment, you had mentioned that your prime focus will be to achieve MSME status for Indian Custom Brokers (CBs) and Freight forwarders (FFs). What measures have you taken to achieve the same?

Meanwhile, most of the CBs and FFs have taken MSME status, which will ensure timely realisation of payment. The government has also directed that a certain percentage of business from PSUs has to be allocated to the MSME sector with advantage to both CBs and FFs. We are also pursuing the government for getting industry status to the end to end logistics industry.

You are a seasoned industry professional with several years of experience on your side. Which lesson you would like to pass on to freight forwarding professionals of new era?

There are no lessons that need to be passed on to FF professionals, if they follow government rules and regulations properly, make themselves well-versed with new laws governed by various agencies, update their IT skills and control cash flows. I find no reason for the industry not to grow to a greater high, provided the above prerequisites are maintained.

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