Shifting the needle – Part one: CIFFA

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by Bruce Rogers

Do you know what Canadian industry associations are doing to improve business conditions in 2023? Here’s a primer on what some of the major industry groups are tackling this year.

Canadian International Freight Forwarders (CIFFA)

Bruce Rogers

Mandate

CIFFA was founded in 1948 and represents some 300 member firms from the largest global multi-national freight forwarding companies, freight brokerage businesses and drayage firms to small and medium sized Canadian companies. It advocates for these members, and provides shippers with a list of freight forwarding companies that operate according to Standard Trading Conditions and abide by a strict code of business ethics.

Today’s challenges

The most significant challenges facing our sector are a lack of infrastructure to serve the needs of Canada’s supply chain in terms of fluidity, reliability and resiliency, and the resulting costs arising from backlogs, disruptions and bureaucratic delays. The supply chain sector also faces challenges in terms of available data and transparency, as the sector remains siloed. CIFFA continues to work on collaborative relationships with our association partners and supply chain stakeholders, bringing all players together for important conversations where local issues can be discussed and resolved, even while global factors cannot always be controlled.

2023 priorities

Our top priorities in 2023 are to continue to escalate member concerns around rising costs and competition concerns due to detention and demurrage charges. We will continue to raise the profile of CIFFA at all levels of government and will continue to lobby on existing regulatory and competition policies as well as on emerging issues as they arise. We will push for the go-ahead on infrastructure projects that are bogged down in approvals processes. We have commenced a strong outreach program across Canada, going out to existing members and member prospects to talk about what CIFFA is doing on the advocacy front, what education, training and certification we offer, and what benefits and opportunities CIFFA members can enjoy. We will continue our strong tradition of relationship-building, being proactive and not reactive, and keeping abreast of work being advanced domestically and internationally through various committees, on matters involving air cargo, marine cargo, rail, trucking, customs and trade. And of course, as 2023 is our 75th anniversary, we will be celebrating that milestone at regional gala dinners and golf events.

Recent wins

We are proud of the work we have done to raise CIFFA’s profile and member issues before the federal Supply Chain Task Force in response to the Task Force Final Report. We are also pleased to have appeared twice before the House of Commons of Canada’s Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, both in view of its study on Anticipated Labour Shortages in the Canadian Transportation Sector and also in view of its study of the State of Canada’s Supply Chain.

We have been meeting with rail, freight forwarder, drayage and customs partners on congestion and clearance issues for containers at the ports and rail containers. CIFFA has been instrumental in putting together these meetings and they’ve been successful because it is an opportunity for our members to have access to the right officials who can hear what the concerns are on the ground. It also pushes officials to be accountable and to develop solutions from an operational perspective that can help our members.