The Day 2 of the FFFAI Convention begins with lightening of the lamp by the Chief Guest Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Cabinet Minister, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways along with Shankar Shinde, Chairman, FFFAI; PK Agarwal, Pr. Chief Commissioner, Mumbai Customs Zone 1, SS; George Abrao, Chairman, Abrao Group; Shashi Kiran Shetty, CMD, Allcargo Group; Shantanu Bhadkamkar, Past Chairman and Advisor, FFFAI; AV Vijayakumar, Immediate Past Chairman, FFFAI; and Dushyant Mulani, Chairman Elect, FFFAI. 

The Minister launched the Chabahar Port Book, FFFAI’s Quarterly Bulletin and

FIATA Bill of Lading at the convention. Addressing the gathering of custom brokers and logistics service providers community at FFFAI Convention, the minister said, “Gati Shakti, unprecedented infra boom, multimodal connectivity, seamless integration of works have been giving new speed to New India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” He added that India has engaged its engagement with Central Asia through Chabahar Port. The Chabahar Port is a key pillar of India’s India-Pacific vision to connect Eurasia with the Indian Ocean Region. “This is an opportunity for the logistics companies to reap allowing the trade to bloom. This route will help to reduce cost and time overruns by building an economical, faster and shorter route between India and Central Asia.”

Four Business sessions witnessed high engagement and interaction. “Together it can be transparent” – this is what FFFAI business session on Customs Beyond Facilitation focussed on.  PK Agarwal, from Mumbai Customs focussed on transparent customs system. “Simplification, modernization and harmonisation of export and import processes is the call of the hour and we appreciate the TFA move.” He also stressed on collaborative and cooperative model to work towards a smooth and transparent customs system. While, Gaurav Masaldan, Joint Secretary (Customs) talked about customs from being a regulator to facilitator.

Moderated by Samir Shah, Advisor, FFFAI, Business session on Skill Knowledge Research Towards Atmanirbhar Bharat, began with Dr. Malini V Shankar, IAS (Retd), Vice Chancellor, Indian Maritime University. She highlighted the growth and development of the logistics sector in terms of infrastructure and technology and then she threw light on skills shortage in the sector and how to address the skills and knowledge gap in the logistics sector.

Niraj Ambani, Group President  Supply Chain, Reliance Industries, shared the shippers perspective. He stressed upon planning skills to be uplifted rather than focussing on executive skills. R. Giridharan, Managing Director, TN Apex Skill Development Centre for Logistics also mentioned upon bridging the gap – placements in the industry versus growing unemployment rate. He focussed on the root cause of this gap  – cost, pressures, social culture differences, strict evaluation process, gig work culture, etc; and also highlighted the skill development initiatives like Naam Mudhvalan.

Last but not the least, Tej Contractor and Dr Nirav Thakkar, the driving force behind the training arm of FFFAI – Indian Institute of Freight Forwarders (IIFF) took us through the journey of  the institute – past, present and future. Focussing on the need of formal and industrialised training with of course involvement, they highlighted the skill development initiatives taken by the institute.

Abhishek Choudhary, Vice President – Corporate Affairs, HR & Company Secretary, National Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Limited, talked about PM Gati Shakti Plan, National Corridor Development Programme, ULIP and Logistics Data Bank  Project. Started with the most talked about Gati Shakti Plan, he showcased the infrastructure landscape which was identified in three phases – 2014-15, 2020-21 and how it will look like in 2024-25. For example, National highways 91 km in 2014-15 to 200,000 km in 2024-25. Similarly, railways cargo handled  from 1000 MT in 2014-15 to 1600 MT in 2024-25.

He talked in detailed about the National Industrial Corridor Programme  which has 11 industrial corridors including industrial smart cities. As part of the Logistics Data Bank Project, 50 million plus EXIM containers have been tracked. Last but not the least, the most recent and the most talked about programme -ULIP  – Unified Logistics Interface Platform where all modes of transportation integration is done through one interface. The biggest announcement he made regarding this is that in the next 4-5 months, ULIP registration for the trade will be open. 

The last session of the Day 2 ended on a high note when Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways joined the 600+ delegates through a hybrid mode. Acknowledging the importance of freight forwarders and associations like FFFAI, he said the government is supporting the manufacturing ecosystem in the country which thereby led to the growth of the logistics sector. “Infrastructure development and advanced technology has paved a way for the logistics sector to perform and grow. And adding to this government policies are focussing on reducing logistics cost. The PM Gati Shakti Plan is cutting the logistics cost and improving the supply chain sector,” adding, “The potential is huge and there is a vast opportunity for foreign investors in the supply chain sector. Future of logistics is good but at the same time, it is important to look at reducing the logistics cost.”, the minister said. “Reduce cost without compromise on quality is the most important approach for the freight forwarders. Accept the change and plan for the future.”