Little more than lip service was paid in support of the UK freight forwarding community in the Budget by the Chancellor Alistair Darling as major new tax and revenue-raising burdens on UK freight forwarders remained in place.
Mr Darlings assertion that free trade between nations will be a cornerstone of global economic recovery over the coming months and years rang hollow with The British International Freight Association (BIFA) as his failure to actively promote the activities of exporters, or the forwarders who support them, suggest he was paying little more than lip service to such sentiment.
Peter Quantrill, Director General of the UK trade association for freight forwarders says: Mr Darling said he would actively strengthen the work of the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD), which was good to hear. What was not so good was his aside that this would happen at a later date. If Britain is to trade its way out of this crisis, the ECGD must be boosted now.
BIFA is also very disappointed by what we didnt hear we didnt hear that the government is re-thinking its planned 67% increase in light dues, nor that it is re-thinking the issue of the ports business rates recalculation which may cause steamship lines to bypass UK calls altogether.
BIFA is also concerned that the Chancellor is to go through with a further increase of two pence a litre in fuel duty from September, which will make it the second increase in just five months. In following years, the duty will rise by a penny annually.
Mr Quantrill says: Our members are deeply involved in global trade. Part of that involvement is the operation of a comprehensive network of overland trailer operations with mainland Europe and beyond, plus the management of domestic road haulage operations, delivering to and from UK ports and airports, as well as customers.
With rates being squeezed and deflationary worries growing, now is not the time to saddle forwarders haulage operations with extra fuel duty costs. Last year we urged Whitehall to consider giving the freight forwarding industry an essential users discount on the duty rise a plea that has again fallen on deaf ears.
Despite the Governments failure to show support for our members in the Budget, BIFA will continue to fully support our members efforts to help UK exporters and importers to trade with the rest of the world.