The 24th Biennial Convention of the Federation of Freight Forwarders in India (FFFAI) held from August 12-14, in Chennai, registered participation of more than 700 delegates’ consisting of members from 28 member associations across the country, logistics industry stakeholders, and government representatives.
The inauguration function was addressed by Amrit Lal Meena, Special Secretary (Logistics), Ministry of Commerce (through a video link); Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and AYUSH; Shankar Shinde, Chairman, FFFAI; AV Vijayakumar, Convenor and Immediate Past Chairman, FFFAI; Shashi Kiran Shetty, CMD, Allcargo Logistics; Niraj Ambani, Group President- Supply Chain, Reliance Industries; Dr Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organisation (WCO); Dr Ivan Petrov, President, FIATA; and Dushyant Mulani, Chairman-Elect, FFFAI.
Welcoming the dignitaries and delegates, FFFAI Chairman Shankar Shinde put utmost importance of the fast-changing scenario of the logistics industry across the globe due to the digital disruption and its obvious impact on the same. Shinde stated that logistics professionals will have to seize the opportunity for their survival and growth by adopting smart technologies for a way forward.
In his speech, Amrit Lal Meena highlighted the crucial role being played by the customs brokers, freight forwarders, and logistics service providers to streamline the manufacturing and EXIM trade in the country. He assured full support from the government to this sector through various forward looking and industry-friendly initiatives like PM Gati Shakti.
Sarbananda Sonowal, after announcing the Business Sessions on August 13, introduced the much-awaited FIATA Bill of Lading (eFBL) for India’s freight forwarders. The Shipping Minister stressed upon the growing importance of an IT-driven logistics industry for faster movement of cargo from manufactures to consumers across the globe and added that FFFAI’s initiatives in this regard through services like eFBL would make Indian products to reach out global markets with reduced transaction times and costs, in turn making Indian products competitive in international markets.
On the second day of the event, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari while addressing the convention (through a video link from Nagpur) urged the logistics industry to go green by using alternative fuel like LNG and ethanol.
Gadkari stated, “Customs Brokers, Freight Forwarders and other logistics service providers are the major stakeholders behind the success of increasing international trade in the country.”
He commended FFFAI for choosing the theme of the convention: “Logistics – Reshape, Embrace and Surge in the Digital Era”, which is in line with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision pertaining to “PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan” focussed on strengthening multimodal logistics infrastructure and transportation. The theme is also apt to achieve the Prime Minister’s goal of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ as the event was on the eve of celebrating ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
The convention ended on a high note with a motivational address by Chief Guest of the Valedictory Session Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways and Tourism. Recognising FFFAI as one of the most effective industry organisations which has been connected with the minister for about two decades, he reiterated full support to the customs brokers fraternity, freight forwarding and logistics industry causes to address and resolve, as he did it in the past pertaining to issues on registration of CBLR.
The minister urged FFFAI Members to focus on expanding their capabilities beyond customs clearance to include other services. “This will be step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat which will be crucial for national economy,” he emphasised.