The implementation of the ‘reset programme’ and the move to Geneva have seen FIATA recalibrate its relationships with a variety of international and regional governmental and nongovernmental bodies and institutions, including the World Customs Organization (WCO), UNCTAD, UNECE and ITC to name a few. One of the key changes has been the interface between FIATA and the WCO.
Since 1999, FIATA and CLECAT have been collaborating on European issues within the framework of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the best interest of their respective members. This MoU was renewed in 2007, and although it is more than 20 years old, it continues to play a crucial role for the freight transport sector in Europe and is highly valued by FIATA.
In the MoU renewal, FIATA agreed to outsource its representation to the WCO to CLECAT due to a lack of resources in Brussels, where the WCO is headquartered. A separate Service Level Agreement (SLA) was signed between FIATA and CLECAT also in 2007, which ensured the appropriate level of FIATA representation at the WCO, in line with the needs and resources of FIATA at that time.
FIATA acknowledges the service provided by CLECAT and the high standard of deliverables and representation at the WCO under the SLA. FIATA also notes that the current Chair of the Advisory Body on Safety and Security, Niels Beuck, was once one of the CLECAT resources committed to the SLA in the representation of FIATA. Over the years, and even with change in the organizations’ respective human resources, CLECAT has continued to find highly-skilled and capable assets to maintain the high standard of representation for FIATA. Most recently, the task was carried out by Ekaterina Stoyanova, CLECAT Policy Advisor, who provided invaluable assistance to Daniel Bloch, the former FIATA CAI Manager – and to CAI itself on WCO matters.
In the evolution of FIATA, the establishment of a new team, and a reassessment of the needs of the respective organizations, FIATA and CLECAT have agreed that the SLA (as to CLECAT’s representation of FIATA at the WCO) would be finalized as of 31 December 2020. As members will be aware, FIATA is now equipped with its own professionalism and expertise in its International Trade and Law business unit. FIATA is now also directly representing itself at the WCO, as of 1 January 2021. This direct representation will reinforce the bilateral agreement signed by FIATA with the WCO in 1987 and renewed in 1998.
There will be a renewal of a strong and consistent interface with the WCO, led by the CAI Chair, Steve Parker, and CAI Manager, Andrea Tang. They will be supported by Madeleine Gourier, who holds a Master’s degree in Law and recently joined FIATA as Trade and Transport Assistant in the International Trade and Law business unit. With this in-house expertise and ease of access on discussions, FIATA Director General, Dr Stéphane Graber, will now be able to add value and, become more involved with WCO matters. Dr Graber has already participated to the last two meetings of the WCO Private Sector Consultative Group.
These new arrangements will not detract from the strong and longstanding relationship between FIATA and CLECAT. It is hoped that both organizations will continue pursuing opportunities for further collaboration under the existing MoU. FIATA remains committed to harnessing synergies with CLECAT for the benefit of the global freight forwarding community, leveraging the recognized expertise of CLECAT in European trade related activity.