Freight forwarders and shipping lines claim that they are operating according to the law of the land and international best practices but still if there are some issues they are ready to sort them out through negotiations.
100 per cent air cargo (imports and exports) and around 70 per cent of ocean cargo is being managed by freight forwarders and they are serving about 99 per cent of exporters of the country.
This was stated by Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Association (PIFFA) chairman Tariq Chaudhry and former chairman Pakistan Ships Agents Association (PSAA) Mohammed Rajpar at a joint press conference on Friday.
However, some incidents of malpractices and fraud may have occurred due to some fault on part of individuals but in no way any commercial transaction could take place at ‘gun point,’ they added.
Explaining some of the issues being raised by exporters they said that as per the established international best practices, the title of ownership of goods is never changed on the carrier’s Master Bill of Lading (MBL) against forwarders’ House Bill of Lading (HBL).
They further said that most of imports into Pakistan, which are almost double in quantum than exports, are being executed under similar procedures and documentations through HBL and are preferred by importers to get better freight terms.
But unfortunately, a couple of textile downstream trade bodies recently tried to malign shipping lines and freight forwarders by misguiding the FIA and provoking them to initiate criminal proceedings on incorrect interpretation of SBP foreign exchange circular No 6 of 2006.They further said that it is a common practice the world over for the freight forwarders to issue HBL in order to meet the required documentations formalities. It is important to note that such documentation of international buyers is in practice globally and is part of the UCP 600 and the UN Charters to which Pakistan is also a signatory.
The view was supported former PIFFA chairman Babar Badat and vice- chairman PSAA Capt Nusrat Iqbal, who said that despite negative propaganda by these exporters against HBL, they are accepting it as a recognised transport document and enjoying freight forwarders’ facilities to increase their business.
Referring to the model of Bangladesh cited by few exporters’ bodies they said that the selective interpretation of this model is not completely true. Most of the global buyers are sourcing their merchandise from Bangladesh using the HBL, which is commonly used and negotiated by the relevant banks in the BD.
Mr Rajpar said that in European Union and others countries, including India the HBL is commonly used by freight forwarders and shipping companies as per the current practice in Pakistan. However, Babar Badat said that PIFFA had already submitted suitable recommendations to the SBP to review the Foreign Exchange circular, while attempting to remove all requirements that do not comply with the carriers’ needs and also remove liability regimes that may be contrary to the international law and international best practices.