Oceanbridge and the CBAFF Conference 2022

Written by Jenny Wheeler, Export Commercial Manager

On Wednesday 21st September, Jessica Dunye (2021 winner of the CBAFF Young Logistics Professional Award) and I flew to Queenstown to attend the 2022 CBAFF (Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation) Conference. This year’s theme was “Collaboration breaking down the silos”.

The conference opened with a Welcome Cocktail Function for all at the Conference Venue, Millennium Hotel Queenstown. This was a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with attendees from previous conferences, meet the new members of the CBAFF council, and check out the stands hosted by the sponsors.

The conference kicked off on Thursday with a welcome from Rosemarie Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of CBAFF, and Rachel Madden, CBAFF President. This included a presentation to new Life Members of the Federation including David McAllister of 360 Logistics Invercargill who has made very valuable contributions working with MPI and Customs on various issues affecting our industry. David had served on the Council for many years also including holding the Vice President position.

After this welcome, we had table discussions and networking with the conference attendees and sponsors. I attended a presentation from the BNZ on their new app-based payment solution “BNZ Pay” as well as a presentation from Team Recruitment on how to increase productivity and morale in the workplace. I also stopped by the table hosted by Xtracta who offers automated data capture software and lastly found the discussion at the NZ Customs table regarding stopping cross-border crime, particularly drug smuggling, especially interesting. They included two real-life examples of where NZ Freight Forwarders and their customs teams had been instrumental in bringing about arrests and covered what to look for.

This was followed by a Ports Panel that included Simon Munt from Lyttleton Port Company, Roger Gray of Ports of Auckland, Blair Hamill from Port of Tauranga, Andrew Locke from Centreport, and Todd Dawson of Napier Port. During this panel, I found the following information to be particularly interesting:

  • Ports of Auckland are focusing on rebuilding the business after abandoning their automation project. They recognize that they have lost the respect of their customers, community, owners, and people. They are working to regain their mana by focusing on their core business. This includes restructuring and retraining staff and ensuring their people are safe and motivated. Recruiting is going well and they are on track to be staffed by December 2022 so working towards a return to berth windows by March 2023.
  • Port of Tauranga advised that a 50% increase in yard intensity has had an impact on productivity and labour is tight. They have had to increase their labour resource in order to handle the same volumes. Schedule delays and vessel bunching by the lines has led to anchor wait times, on average, of 3 days. They are looking to extend the berth at Sulphur Point and also working on automation – these will lead to a 28% increase in the number of TEU the port can handle.
  • Lyttleton Port Company grew 12% in the last financial year handling larger exchanges and larger dwell times. Schedule delays are also causing them issues. The port will have a new crane operational in April or July 2023 which will allow them to handle an increase in capacity.
  • Centreport had an increase in shift capacity from mid-April 2022. This has allowed them to increase their container moves from 600 to 875 in a 24-hour period. The use of Electric Vehicles has also increased their productivity while also being part of the Carbon Zero journey and offering a buffer from FAF.
  • Napier Port has seen fewer vessel calls but an increase in average TEU per vessel. Their Port Logistics are offering daily rail services to Palmerston North and have also been working on mooring & tensioning improvements. They are increasing Health and Safety for their people on their ports by focusing on engineered controls to remove risk. They are, however, seeing labour and skills shortages in the workforce.

After lunch, Michele Hansen from Port Connect took us thru a presentation that covered how NZ’s largest ports are working together and how they assist with this. Port Connect is a 50/50 joint venture between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga and handles 77% TEU throughput for NZ. For the future, they would like to get other ports in NZ and the Pacific onto Port Connect and also create a management system for bulk cargo.

Further afternoon presentations were by Barbara Nebel of Thinkstop covering NZ’s move to Carbon Zero. She encouraged us to think about the life cycle of the product vs the transport emissions.

This was followed by Paul Smith (EY) and Jared Otto (IRD) who discussed GST. From March 2022, GST treatment of domestic transportation became zero-rated as part of international transport. They also reported on documents needed to refund import GST, how to claim back overpaid GST post importation, and how brokers should be treating GST paid to Customs.

Andrew Balgarmie from Tradewindow was up next with his presentation titled “Is data the new oil”. He went thru the main points for data utilisation which included identifying your end goal, the parties in your ecosystem, the personas in these organisations, what questions they are asking, and what data points can be captured. He also reminded us that good data beats opinion and if it can be measured, it can be improved.

Following afternoon tea we split up into groups for our Breakout sessions. For Breakout 1, I attended the panel discussion on 3PL warehousing hosted by Gordon Finlay and Glenn Turner of IVS. Here we talked thru cultures of continuous improvement and creating 3-5 year development plans with employees aligned with remuneration to improve retention. Breakout 2 was a Freight Forwarders Interest Group led by Katrina Jenner and Hamish Milne – the Vice Presidents of the CBAFF council. Here we brainstormed issues we wanted CBAFF to represent the industry on in the coming year. Common topics were container detention, attracting fresh staff to the industry, and staff retention.

Thursday evening was our conference dinner which took place at the Bazaar Restaurant at the QT. Oceanbridge employee Jessica Dunye, 2021 winner of the CBAFF Young Logistics Professional Award, gave an overview of her winning dissertation which focused on the multiple challenges she had to overcome to secure a clothing delivery from China for a popular men’s retailer. The project faced COVID-19 logistical challenges and working thru multiple options of sea and/or air to get the product here. Then it was time to announce this year’s winner which was Riska Ariestadewi of Champion Freight. She did her dissertation on bulk wine exports. Congratulations Riska!!

The guest speaker for the evening was Cam Calkoen. Born with cerebral palsy, Cam spoke to us about being fearless and pushing through limitations. He inspired us all with his achievements in life from representing NZ in athletics, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, and becoming a motivational speaker in multiple countries such as England and the USA. He was a very entertaining speaker who encouraged us all to dream big and achieve more.

Friday, the final day of the conference, kicked off with a panel of shipping lines that included Mark Scott from Cosco, David Knowles from PIL, and Gary Carter of CMA/ANL. They discussed the impacts of terminal delays, congestion, restricted move counts, vessel omissions, weather events, COVID import on labour as working from home not possible on the ports, schedule integrity & customer experience at its lowest level, supply of empties, and repositioning problems. They then moved on to the current and pending challenges we will be facing. These are war & inflation, China, and the USWC uncertainty. They closed by opening to the floor for questions which included if they will be increasing the number of ports called in NZ and how they intend to meet berthing windows considering external pressures.

Next up were Pauline Davies of Fee Langstone and Andrew Hudson of Rigby Cooke who covered legal issues surrounding detention and demurrage. They raised that it was time for legislative reform and directed us to the Fair Trading Act 1986 unfair contract terms rules. This could involve court action by the Commerce Commission and will definitely require collaboration from CBAFF members.

Following this was the presentation by MPI and NZ Customs. The presenters were Stuart Anderson from Biosecurity NZ, Dunja Hassencamp of MPI, Peter Lewis & Craig Chitty of NZ Customs, and Dean O’Callaghan of the Customs CCA team. The main topics covered were the huge impact Foot and Mouth disease would have on the NZ market. NZ exported $35b of dairy and meat products last year and this would stop immediately if Foot and Mouth was detected in NZ. They also discussed the impact of COVID on risk assessment of cargo – queue times remain an issue. They are having a working group with CBAFF members to review a system revamp. They are also trying to strengthen the sea cargo pathway thru performance-based verification of Transitional Facilities. MPI then talked about making improvements to the Domestic Transshipment Requests to allow the movement of uncleared goods. This will have benefits including protection, transparency, digitalisation, automation, tracking, and control.

After lunch, it was time for the Commerce Commission panel. This was hosted by Grant Chamberlain and Yvette Popvic of the Commerce Commission. They covered the Fair Trading Act and also provided a Competition update. New provisions came into force on 16 August 2022 for the Fair Trading Act for unconscionable conduct, unfair contract terms, and uninvited direct sales. The Commission will prioritise cartel laws in 2022/23 and take enforcement action where appropriate. There are prohibitions on price fixing, market allocation, and output restriction agreements. They covered the penalties for breaching these laws and also provided some case examples.

Unfortunately, I had to miss the last presentation which was an airfreight panel as I had a plane to catch!

The two day conference was full of interesting and relevant information. Thank you to the team at CBAFF team for organising this, and I am looking forward to the next one.

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