Get acquainted with FIATA's Senior Vice President

With more than 35 years of experience in international transport, forwarding and logistics, Ivan Petrov is the former President and current Vice President of the Bulgarian Association for Freight Forwarding, Transport and Logistics. He is FIATA Senior Vice President and Chair of the Rail Working Group.

How did you first get involved with FIATA?

Ivan Petrov: I have been with FIATA since 1985. This is the year when I was first assigned by the Bulgarian Association for Freight Forwarding, Transport and Logistics to manage FIATA affairs. This was important because Bulgaria had been selected to host the 1989 FIATA World Congress and I was part of the congress organizing team.

This role gave me a good introduction to the organization, and over time, my interest grew about the processes and the issues at the global level. So I got more involved with the different institutes, advisory bodies, and working groups, and have attended almost all congresses and HQ Meetings for the last 35 years.  

What would you say the Bulgarian Association for Freight Forwarding, Transport and Logistics sees as the main benefits of FIATA membership?

IP: There are serious benefits from being a FIATA member, as it opens the door to an important global community. When the Bulgarian Association was created, we were going through a transition period in our country with many economic uncertainties. The government had passed a law to levy Value-Added Tax on all freight forwarding services, which was not the case in other countries. Through our collaboration with FIATA, we were able to have the law withdrawn. As I recall, there were at least three occasions in our country that attempted to license freight forwarders and we were able to respond appropriately due to our good knowledge of world practices provided by FIATA.

One of the most important benefits of this organization is that it provides guidance and best practices from different parts in the world. These can then be taken to national authorities to help advocate against unfavourable regulations to better serve your interests.

FIATA saw many organizational changes in 2020, many triggered by the implementation of the ‘reset programme’. Where do you see the main improvements and what more would you like to see accomplished?

IP: I am very happy with the work carried out by the reset programme last year. We had a difficult task to do, because there was a very heavy burden from the past. The changes implemented were a big challenge for the new team to handle, but despite all the obstacles, 2020 was a very successful year for FIATA. The working style of the organization has changed for the better, by improving the communication and promoting transparency across all activities. The new team in Geneva has done a great job in restructuring the organization and I am very satisfied with this new direction we have taken.

The area where I am the most excited to see the accomplishments unfold is in our digital strategy. The digitalization of the supply chain is a key issue in transport and logistics and will continue to be moving forward, particularly since the pandemic changed our lives last year, so for me this is where we need to focus. With the digital strategy, there is a full range of services that what we will be able to provide for our members, to give them additional added value to being members of FIATA. The work being done on the digitalization of trade documents, such as the FIATA Bill of Lading, is of great importance. I am very satisfied with the progress being made and look forward to seeing the results to come from the work that will be carried out over the year.

FIATA is a hybrid membership organization with National Associations and Individual Members (most which are small and medium-sized enterprises). How does FIATA meet these diverse interest needs? What are the advantages or perhaps disadvantages of this structure?

IP: It is a big advantage for FIATA, a strength really, to have a variety of members. It is difficult to think of another association, either national or international, that has such a mix of members. Traditionally, FIATA has probably addressed more toward National Associations as they are our primary members. They are a core component of our existence. However, as we look into the future, FIATA recognizes the vital role played by our individual members. With our reset programme, we are working to have more tailored information and products made accessible to them. We hope that we can enlarge the scope of our individual membership, which has been a great motivation for all the changes we have been working on over the last years.

In the future, what will be the key elements to maintain relevance of non-profit, nongovernmental industry associations (either at the national or international level)?

IP: We need to look at the market needs to assess what a non-profit organization like ours can contribute to at the global level. As a main logistics player, we must continue working to have our voice heard among other international organizations and UN agencies involved in trade to remind all actors that we are the only multimodal transport international organization.

Through our members, we represent the global logistics community. FIATA members work within all modes of transport for the sake of and in the interest of cargo, for it to be handled in the best professional, safe and cost-efficient way. Freight forwarders overcome all hurdles and avoid delays as a result of successful operations, custom’s and border crossing procedures, etc.

We should continue working at the highest level, with likeminded organizations and governments, to bring better conditions and services to the logistics sector and have a smooth functioning across all transport modes.

Any final thoughts for FIATA’s members and partners on the way forward for the organization?

IP: We need our members to be FIATA’s best supporters. We need them to support the decisions being made by the presidency, the extended board, and the headquarters team – all which have the members best interests in mind. We also encourage members to become more active and participate in our meetings and events as much as possible, providing valuable food for thought and contributing to a better environment in logistics.

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