Robert Keen, Director General of the British International Freight Association examines what services are on offer…
Using a forwarder can cut your costs. Because they arrange for the transport of huge numbers of consignments, forwarders can consolidate loads going to a single destination to keep freight charges down for individual traders. However, as with most business transactions, you should compare prices from a range of suppliers to find the best level of cost and service for you.
Freight forwarders typically offer a wide range of secondary trade-related services as well as their core transport ones. These include:
- customs clearance – forwarders can complete customs paperwork on your behalf, and pay any taxes or duties owed
- other documentation issues – eg bills of loading, or any documents required by banks before payment is released
- insurance – many forwarders will be able to supply insurance service
- inventory management
- logistics and supply-chain management of value-added activities
Bear in mind that you will also be able to use your forwarder as a valuable source of information and advice about the international trading process. This can be particularly useful for businesses that are new to trade with African nations.
For example, you can ask a forwarder as part of your contract to help you ensure your goods are properly packaged and labelled for export. Each country in Africa will have its own rules and standards on export packaging and labelling.