TIA Continues Its Focus on NAFTA, Other International Issues Confronting 3PLs

Will Sehestedt | Transportation Intermediaries Association

As TIA continues to grow, so do the interests and capabilities of TIA member companies. In TIA’s 40th year, the Association now includes hundreds of companies that offer not only domestic over-the-road transportation services, but also a host of international and multimodal capabilities.

TIA staff work hard to ensure that every member has access to the tools they need to grow their business in a highly competitive marketplace, including tools that can help members understand how to become licensed to offer, or to partner with established companies in offering international and multimodal freight services. TIA networking events, policy committees, and the members-only section of the TIA website all offer different resources and opportunities to learn about those aspects of the 3PL industry. 

In addition to FMCSA-licensed property brokers working in domestic truckload and LTL freight, TIA counts as members a diverse list of companies and associate members with expertise in cross-border, intermodal, ocean freight, air freight, and customs brokerage. Improving resources and discussions on issues related to international freight will add value to TIA membership for those companies and enrich the Association experience for every member regardless of specialty or focus.

TIA is the sole U.S. association member of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA). FIATA provides an international forum for TIA staff and members to discuss regulatory differences and impact global freight policies. Just as the American Trucking Associations is a member of the International Road Transport Union, or the American Association of Railroads is a member of the International Union of Railways, TIA is uniquely positioned through its membership in a global organization to represent North American transportation intermediaries on a global scale.

TIA members face the same pressures as 3PLs in Australia, China, or Egypt: digitizing supply chains, frustrating regulatory regimes, and constantly evolving relationships with shippers and carriers. Technology is making the global movement of goods faster and giving shippers new tools to monitor their supply chains. FIATA enables national associations to discuss how their members are adjusting to these new demands, and to advocate to world organizations in support of regulations that facilitate international commerce.

Participating in discussions at FIATA helps TIA to see how the small- and medium-sized intermediaries around the world are adapting to meet new challenges and compete in the global marketplace. Those conversations with other national associations, such as the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) and the Mexican Association of Cargo Agents (AMACARGA), help TIA to offer resources to its members that work (or are considering working) with cross-border freight movements.

TIA is currently working on or monitoring major issues that could impact intermediaries of all specializations, such as the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), port labor agreements, and changes to the Federal Maritime Commission’s regulation of ocean transportation intermediaries. Each of these issues could impact the U.S. economy and/or directly impact the businesses of TIA members. Through the International Logistics Conference and the Airfreight Logistics Conference, TIA staff are working to help circulate information and gather feedback on how to best represent the 3PL industry on those issues.

The renegotiation of NAFTA was a major campaign issue in the 2016 presidential election and has yet to be resolved despite flurries of news and activity. These negotiations may reshape the supply chains for retailers, manufacturers, and agriculture producers. Since its inception more than 20 years ago, U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico has grown faster than with any other trading partner nation. We all know that, when the economy is doing well, 3PLs tend to do well. It is thus important for the 3PL industry that any changes to NAFTA not slow the flow of goods, or increase the costs of goods to the end consumer.

TIA has also been closely monitoring the negotiation of long-term labor contracts at U.S. ports and the status of a petition to clarify rules on detention and demurrage. In August 2017, management and labor at U.S. West Coast ports negotiated a contract extension through 2022. Recently, management and labor at U.S. Gulf Coast and East Coast ports negotiated a six-year extension of a contract that was set to expire in September 2018. These long-term agreements will help the U.S. economy avoid the negative impacts that resulted from a cargo processing backlog of U.S. West Coast ports in 2014-2015.

Progress is also being made on an issue related to that 2014-2015 cargo processing backlog. In December 2016, TIA and a group of nearly 30 shipper, intermediary, and motor carrier associations filed a petition with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), requesting guidance on “just and reasonable” practices for ocean carriers and marine terminal operators to levy detention, demurrage, and per diem charges. In January 2018, the FMC held a hearing on the petition to collect testimony from all perspectives and, in March 2018, initiated a fact-finding investigation on the issue. Following the investigation, the FMC will publish a final report on detention and demurrage practices by December 2018. TIA will continue working with FMC and industry partners to promote sensible guidance to reduce unnecessary costs in the supply chain.

Every  TIA member benefits from strong advocacy efforts before Congress and U.S. federal regulatory agencies. Partnering with other national associations, both in FIATA or separately on other matters of interest, is another way for TIA to offer value to its members and to continue to grow. If you are interested in participating in the International Logistics Conference or the Airfreight Logistics Conference, or just in learning more, please contact TIA at advocacy@tianet.org or 703-299-5700.

Will Sehestedt is Director of Government Affairs for the Transportation Intermediaries Association. He may be reached at sehestedt@tianet.org or 703-299-5713.