President's message:

Message of the President of APT

As the elected President of APT for 2015/ 2016, I have set as one of my main objectives to lead the association to new heights in the current context of Mauritius positioning itself as the maritime hub of the Indian Ocean.

With the unflinching support of the Executive Committee of APT as well as our 45 member companies, I am confident that our collective endeavours will yield fruitful results to the business community of Mauritius and of the world at large.

Since its creation in 1976, the ‘Association Professionnelle des Transitaires’ (APT), the Professional Association of Freight Forwarders, has been the driving force behind the logistics sector in Mauritius, shaping the successive pillars of its economy.

We have not only made key contributions in the seamless movement of cargo to and from Mauritius, but also stood up in promoting world-class business practices and ethical values.

Today, we can be proud that the World Bank rates our country as above average in its Logistics Performance Index.

However, we must acknowledge the fact that on the global ranking list, our country occupies the 115th place out of a total of 160 countries, lacking lustre.

We must spare no effort to work closely with other stakeholders especially the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development through the Customs Services to think out of the box and open the way to both qualitative and quantitative leaps in the critical components of international trade logistics such as the efficiency of customs clearance, the quality of the trade and transport infrastructure, competitively-priced shipments, timeliness…

This year, following APT’s appointment on the board of directors of the Mauritius Cargo Community System, we will be in a stronger position to exert a leverage effect on the decision-making of that organisation for the benefit of the local logistics sector.

We will voice out any constraint or problem encountered by any APT’s member companies so that remedial or mitigated measures can be rapidly initiated.

Major challenges lie ahead. Our association is actively working jointly with the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the Ministry of Finance to roll out the National Single Window Project that would further streamline the Customs and Governmental ministries approval processes with respect to controlled products.

Moreover, APT is highly pleased to note a positive paradigm shift from a punitive penalty to a more meaningful compliance framework that has been implemented by the newly-elected Government.

The struggle of our association does not stop there. We will fight for the Customs Services to adopt a more human approach with respect to genuine errors made during the validation period of customs declarations. Of course, without departing from the highest standards of good governance to which APT has always strongly adhered to.

Last but not least, in line with the growing trend of Mauritian importers to diversify the sourcing of their products from African countries and the window of opportunities that the emerging African continent is offering to local exporters, I feel that APT should nurture relationships with representative trade organisations at the level of the regional economic blocs (COMESA, EAC, SADC…) in order to develop unified, single procedures that would boost South-South trade and business partnerships. We will write another page in the glorious history of Mauritius trade exchanges.

Gupta Gopaul

Posted by: Editor on Friday, 24th Jul 2015

39th AGM Message

Members of the Executive Committee of the ‘Association Professionnelle des Transitaires’,

Colleagues of the ‘Association Professionnelle des Transitaires’,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good afternoon!

On behalf of the Managing Committee of APT, I am pleased to welcome you all at the 39TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of APT.

First of all, I would like to express our sincere thanks to Mr James Lenaghan – Director of customs for his presence, despite his tight schedule, and also to all members of our association who made it a duty to attend the AGM today.

Without much ado, let me now give you an outline of the main achievements of our Association during the past year.

The Executive Committee of the association and I have taken a number of initiatives which I would briefly describe under 3 main themes:

Firstly, enhancement of trade facilitation which has been one of the driving factors of my chairmanship.

APT has established a number of committees to work closely with the different decision makers and stakeholders so as to identify and address any barriers to trade. Through this proactive approach, APT has contributed in a decisive manner to open new markets in Africa to Mauritian exporters.

We are therefore very happy to note that our voices have been heard and the Ministry of Finance has announced that the Freight Rebate scheme will now be extended to other ports in Africa and will also apply to all shipping companies indiscriminately. As you must be aware, the existing Rebate scheme has been favouring only one shipping company.

The next issue is about improvement of the supply chain to and from Mauritius.

Favouring exports is a means of driving the growth of the economy of our country. It is therefore, of critical importance not only to improve a link in the supply chain but also to transform the overall logistics offer into a highly competitive one.

In this vein, the forthcoming implementation of the ‘Single Window declaration’ project by the different ministries will, undoubtedly, lead to the enhancement of the competitiveness of our country in terms of logistics, efficiency and costs. This will also promote transparency in the processing of import licences and encourage importers to adhere to regulations.

Freight forwarders will also gain in productivity as their employees will no longer have to move from one Ministry to another .All they will have to do is to submit a single online application from their office computer and all relevant authorities will receive it simultaneously for approval. Last but not least, the environment also stands to gain with a reduction in paperwork.
I am pleased to say that APT has played a critical role in the design and future implementation of that ‘Single Window declaration’ project.

While we are on this, the Association notes that the announcement of the abolition of 70 permits and licenses has brought a breath of fresh air to operators. It will certainly remove the discretionary power from the hands of bureaucrats and alleviate the pain and burden that the customer was subjected to for years. We sincerely hope that this major step forward will be pursued in the years to come so that irrelevant permits are not maintained just because decisions are not taken in light of new development.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The third theme is about reinforcing the sense of belonging of employees of members of freight forwarders members

Oftentimes, we tend to overlook the fact that our human resource is our main asset but we freight forwarders are very conscious of this. Our employees in most cases learn `sur le tas` and their career path , progress , ambition ,welfare is our concern .We should leave no stone unturned to ensure that they live like a family and are fully aware of what is going on in their field of work. This gives a sense of belonging that helps networking and communication.
Ever since I took the chairmanship, I made it a point to forward emails and put updates on our website regularly. We also organised an annual dinner at the House of Canton last month where we had some 150 attendees and it proved to be a success.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Annual General Meeting (AGM) also gives me the opportunity to share with you my views on the future challenges that await the logistics sector. I am confident that the association will continue to strive hard so as to contribute to the continuous growth of its 45 member freight forwarders.

When I took office last year as president of APT, one of the first priorities of the association was to hold a half-day brainstorming session at Trevessa House in the vicinity of the port.

The main objective was to brainstorm and obtain inputs from all members and they came up with a list of priorities that they would like APT to tackle.

Among those, which topped the agenda was the need for the harmonization of the HS codes of garments but also of the unfair and unilateral decision of Customs to introduce a payment fee of Rs 500 for the confirmation of an HS Code.

The decision was immediately taken to prepare a memorandum to the Ministry of Finance so as to draw the attention of the policy-makers on how these issues were hindering trade facilitation while penalizing operators .As a consequence ,this also had a negative impact on the ‘logistics index’ of our country.

Following this, a sub-committee was set up by APT and we had several working sessions with representatives of MRA Customs and the Ministry of Finance. The discussions are still going on and we are hopeful that our concern and grievances will receive a favourable outcome in the near future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the years, APT has strengthened its position on the market place and is viewed by the authorities as the voice of the logistics industry of Mauritius. Our association is proud to serve on various boards such as Port Users’ Council, MACCS and also attend meetings in key organisations that shape the logistics landscape of our country such as Customs, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Board of Investment ; to name a few.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Year 2014 has not been an easy year for the freight industry. Unpredictable Climatic changes affected port operations entailing into the skipping of vessels to South Africa, thus, affecting our scheduled operations. This resulted into many cancellations of freight demands mainly for exports. We believe that it is high time for the Mauritius port authorities to find solutions for such incontingencies. This Government has announced certain major developments at our port and we hope that all stakeholders will be consulted in due course.

The setting up of a Cargo village at our airport is taking a long time and we hope that the project gets completed at the earliest. This would enable freight forwarders to use the insfrastructural and logistics facilities to explore new markets and tap new opportunities.

This coming year will be characterised by a new wave of challenges arising from regional and global trends.

At local level, competition is going to intensify. I am of opinion that the Government should take necessary action to review the ease with which a Freight Forwarder’s licence is delivered. Prompt and drastic measures should be initiated as new entrants have the tendency of slashing their tariffs to win customers at the detriment of the quality of service. We are operating in a global context and it cannot be `business as usual` anymore or we run the risk of falling behind while others catch up in this world of `survival of the fittest`. We have no right to sacrifice quality and the best service at the costs of making our friends and dear ones happy. We should be able to acknowledge those who strive hard and continue to invest in their businesses to provide service and comfort to others. We should not forget that `le client est roi` and we have no right to deny him of the best.

We at APT, strongly believe that freight forwarders have an ethical duty towards all the citizens of Mauritius by engaging in good governance and offer a quality service at competitive price.

Furthermore, we should also start to focus on the rising concern for green logistics especially from our customers, agents and the carriers in Mauritius and abroad. We should increasingly integrate the dimensions of carbon footprint, environmental friendliness and sustainability.

Last but not least, APT is willing to help the authorities in formulating and rolling out a Logistics Development Strategy.

Professionalism should be upheld at all levels of our logistics industry if we want Mauritius to effectively transform itself into a leading regional hub.We must be able to attract the best talents and recruit a workforce while empowering them through capacity building to bring value added to our companies. You will agree that a skilled workforce is a strategic tool to reap the economic values that will be generated by the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Together, we can make the future of the logistics industry of Mauritius brighter and we are confident that this Government with its new vision and current out look on the future of `le monde des affaires` will clearly steer our country to new heights where trade and logistics will move hand in hand for the betterment of one and all.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

Posted by: Editor on Wednesday, 1st Apr 2015