The Association of Freight Forwarders of Portugal (APAT), whose members represent 1 percent of the national GDP, promoted, among its members, a questionnaire on the impact of COVID-19.
The survey’s main objective was to understand how freight forwarders are circumventing the consequences of COVID-19 and what expectations they have for the future. In this way, it was intended to perceive the greatest difficulties and also the way forward, based on the opinion of those who work every day in the sectors of Logistics and the Transport chain.
The main findings of the survey indicate that:
- 95.5% of freight forwarders claim to have implemented a Contingency Plan, to protect their employees and partners;
- 24.6% of respondents felt the need to use the Lay-off, especially those who are more dedicated to niche markets that, meanwhile, have stopped, namely air traffic and, in large part, road traffic;
- 78.2% adopted the Teleworking regime, avoiding social contact and complying with what was requested by the Government. Without failing to be at the forefront, freight forwarders sought to find the best solutions for the supply of essential goods and medical equipment.
For freight forwarders, the main difficulties are:
- Decrease in business volume, with many transports in “empty”;
- Bad loans, difficult collections and lack of customer liquidity;
- Price speculation / cost increase;
- Decreased response capacity (maritime transport, due to large scale omissions; air transport, due to the suspension of passenger flights and the closure of borders; road transport, due to the lack of trucks, particularly for export);
- Longer response from public bodies, such as customs, and mandatory presentation of some documentation on physical media;
- Absence of concrete measures for forwarding activity.
Regarding the future and the prospects of recovery from the current crisis for forwarding activity, there are two currents of opinion: one argues that the gradual lifting of contingencies will determine the acceleration of the economic recovery, while the other believes that, despite the gradual opening of the market, The recovery process will be more difficult and prolonged over time, mainly for economic reasons.
António Nabo Martins, Executive President of APAT, says: “We can perhaps conclude, that despite some optimism that always defines us, because we are permanently focused on helping the country to resume activity and relaunch our economy, we also know that we have to be cautious because a lot will depend on the guidelines of the Government and the EU and not so much on our will, effort and selflessness ”.