Freight Forwarders Urge Government to Add Cargo to Review of UK Border Security

BIFA, the trade association which represents the interests of Britain’s freight forwarding community, welcomes the Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s recent announcement of a review of the UK’s border security arrangements and commitment to a new unified border force at air and seaports.

Feltham, United Kingdom, August 03, 2007 --( As a stakeholder in the Government’s existing ‘Border Management Programme’, promoting closer working between Customs, the UK Immigration Service and the Police, BIFA would encourage the Government to look beyond ‘people’ and include ‘cargo movement’ through our air and seaports in its plans. It should also extend its plans to include all government departments and agencies with a ‘control at border’ remit.

A statement by the government says: “To strengthen the powers and surveillance capability of our border guards and security officers, we will now integrate the vital work of the Border and Immigration Agency, Customs and UK Visas overseas and at the main points of entry to the UK and establish a unified border force.”

That statement suggests that a unified structure would lead to greater coordination, a common set of objectives, a common set of powers and a single command structure.

Although it is recognised that the statement of intention is limited and focused on security, BIFA believes that a general review of the management of the UK’s borders is long overdue. Currently BIFA members, and the exporters and importers they serve, are forced to deal with a plethora of regulatory authorities and requirements to move cargo across the border. They believe there is much to be gained for business competitiveness and government effectiveness, in bringing about genuine ‘joined-up’ working across all departments in this area.

Colin Beaumont, BIFA’s Director General said: “Companies managing international supply-chains have long been frustrated by the cross-cutting procedural and regulatory requirements at the border and the absence of coordination between the relevant authorities. This continues to hamper business efficiency and increase costs.

“We would urge the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, to use the opportunity of his wider review to seriously consider going much further than currently envisaged and propose the establishment of a single UK Border Agency to encompass all relevant activities.”

This more radical, streamlined approach should improve border security by reducing the number of agencies needing to be co-ordinated and the associated risks. It should also result in efficiencies for both business and government, which is consistent with the Government’s stated intention to reduce ‘red-tape’ and regulate more efficiently.

Note to Editors:

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) is the representative body of the freight forwarding industry in Britain, which supplies British business with the international supply-chain management and cargo movement expertise, across all transport modes, by which Britain exports and imports. BIFA comprises in excess of 1,250 British-based corporate members, responsible for 85% of British freight forwarding business.

BIFA has a very real interest in trade facilitation and the effectiveness or otherwise of the UK’s border controls. BIFA also retains expertise in cargo security policy and has worked closely with the relevant government authorities in matters of border security since the ‘Lockerbie’ tragedy.

British International Freight Association
Ian Matheson
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