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forwarding ยป Managing Director Petri Laitinen BY MATTI REMES PHOTOBY SUSANNA KEKKONEN wants to raise the forwarding sector's profile. within the EU are constantly becoming stricter and more complicated. For instance, a security overhaul of EU customs law that takes effect next July will create a lot more work for forwarders." Advancing the interests of the sector also means actively maintaining contacts with partners. "Our cooperation with Finnair has worked smoothly," he says. "The association's aviation division works on the issues that we consider important. We keep in touch regarding matters such as the regularity of transit times at air cargo terminals or developing electronic reservation systems." Laitinen points out that various companies in the logistics sector have different needs. Through his organisation, even smaller firms can make their voice heard. sLowing exports, fewer orders More responsibility for the transport chain Nowadays a forwarder's work involves much more than tackling customs red tape, says Petri Laitinen, Managing Director of the Finnish Freight Forwarders' Association. The job description of a forwarding company has undergone quite a transformation. In the early 1990s, forwarders primarily handled customs formalities related to foreign trade. Now companies in the sector are increasingly responsible for the smooth flow of the entire transport chain. "Forwarders have become the overseers of the international flow of goods. Total responsibility means making sure that your customer's products are transferred as agreed from one storage facility to another, or even to shop shelves," Laitinen explains. A forwarder's work is based on close cooperation with partners offering ship, road, rail and air deliveries. In the global economy networks and transport chains are more complex than ever. "You can see this in the know-how needed for this work. In this job, you must be able to withstand stress and handle many orders at the same time." According to Laitinen, there are concerns in the sector about finding enough qualified people to do this work in the future. "We are competing with other, larger sectors for skilled individuals. One problem is that the general public doesn't know much about the forwarding business. Many people associate us with ports, but know very little about what we actually do." Leading companies in the fieLd The Finnish Freight Forwarders' Association has 69 member companies. These include both international forwarding companies that operate in Finland as well as domestic players in the field. He took over the leadership position at the beginning of 2008 after serving as a lawyer specialising in transport law for the legal and insurance sectors. His experience has come in handy since the association's areas of responsibility include lobbying on legislative issues that affect the sector. "Safety and environmental regulations At the moment, those in the forwarding business share a common concern about the impact of the economic downturn on international trade and other deliveries. Laitinen says that companies are already seeing a decline in demand. "This autumn, the number of bid requests is down for all forms of transport. Next year may be extremely challenging." Emission reductions and the associated extra costs will increasingly affect all modes of transport. As long as airlines and aircraft manufacturers are able to lower their carbon dioxide emissions, there will still be demand for air cargo, predicts Laitinen. "I believe that air freight will continue to be a significant mode of transport in the future. It is the fastest way to deliver light, valuable goods to their destination." 3|2008 CARGO NEWS 3

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