FTA states position on “Essential Services”

SILA Global fully endorses the below proactive measures taken by FTA. We wait for clear direction from the department or prime minister office regarding classification of essential service provider.

Essential Services – FTA states a need for the entire international supply chain

Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) this afternoon engaged with executives from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.

Below is an extract of our follow-up correspondence.
IMPORTANT – Essential Services

As discussed, we have two sides to the supply chain. One being the domestic supply chain and the other (our focus) being the international supply chain.

In terms of the international supply chain, all parties from the importer / exporter through to the border, must be treated as “essential services” to ensure goods continue to flow onto Australian shelves and to support the economy for as long as possible during this pandemic.

IMPORTERS / EXPORTERS

As discussed, commerce is doing am amazing job continuing trade during these extreme circumstances. They will continue to do as long as they have broad understanding of the next steps and the definition of “essential services”.

It is imperative that all importers and exporters are allowed to continue to receive and dispatch goods and fall in the definition of “essential services”.

This will allow logistics providers an opportunity to make decisions on the financial viability to continue deploying vessels, chartering of aircraft etc.

If a decision is made to exclude a significant proportion of importers and exporters, then I would highly recommend that the federal government:

• plan to subsidise the trade and / or logistics sector to make it financially viable to continue operations; or
• plan to charter your own transport and / or bring in the military to move essential goods across international borders.

If logistics providers cannot move and deliver cargo to importers / exporters, there will be massive backlogs, congestion and significant financial demurrage / detention costs.

LOGISTICS PROVIDERS

As well as stevedores, air cargo terminal operators, transport operators, licensed depots and empty container parks (physical handlers of cargo), it is essential that freight forwarders and customs brokers are included as “essential services”.

Freight forwarders are playing a critical role in co-ordinating freight and arranging international transport, chartering aircraft etc.

Customs brokerages are trade professionals that play an essential role of managing import compliance requirements and co-ordinating domestic transport.

In particular, biosecurity compliance is even more important than ever during these challenging times – the last thing we need is an imported pest infestation that would decimate our agriculture industry on top of a pandemic !

The entire international supply chain is fragile at the best of times, removing or limiting the capabilities of one link is not an option.

We are being inundated by our members who are looking for clarification of the definition of “essential services” and they need a definitive answer as a matter of urgency.

FTA has since followed up and shared this detail with State and Territory policy advisors. We will continue to keep members informed on this important detail.

Paul Zalai – Director and Co-Founder, FTA / Secretariat, APSA