Mr. Paul Damkjaer
First of all Paul, I am Danish, and by the look I had at your surname, I believe so are you. How did you end up in Australia, and how did you get into the logistics business in the first place?
Yes, it is Danish. My father was Danish and my mother Australian. I suppose you could call me a Danish Australian or vice versa.
My father was a seafarer since the age of 14 with a small Danish shipping line called Maersk 😃. He ended up working on the oil tankers between Singapore and Australia where he met my mother, and the rest is history. At the age of 18, I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do, and I was not interested in attending university. I applied to be a junior shipping clerk with a small forwarding/customs brokerage in Sydney. This gave me hands-on experience which is very rare these days for new entrants into our industry, for which I am very grateful, and I am still in the industry 40 years later.
I understand that you are an association that looks after customs brokers & forwarders. Elaborate if you will on what that job entails.
The International Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of Australia Ltd (IFCBAA) is an enabler which fosters professionalism and integrity among providers of international trade services. Our strength is the knowledge and expertise of our members, and our objective is to use that knowledge to our members’ best advantage, assisting them in managing their business effectively in a competitive trade environment.
IFCBAA functions as a peak, national, not-for-profit industry association, being the voice for International Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers in Australia for 116 years. IFCBAA supports its members to work collectively with their clients and ensure revelatory compliance as to the import or export of goods. In the main, these relate to customs, biosecurity, transport security, and other taxation arrangements both domestic and internationally.
What is the main advantage of belonging to an organisation like yours?
The primary objectives of IFCBAA are to raise the profile of the International Trade Logistics and Supply Chain Management service industry and to promote the career advancement of its members through an emphasis on training and standards. It also functions as a single voice for solution providers in International Logistics and Customs matters.
Nowadays, do you need a licence to establish a freight forwarding company in Australia? How about becoming a customs broker?
To establish a freight forwarding company, you do not require a licence; however you must comply with the Australian government regulations and taxation laws. In saying that, most freight forwarders have approved bonded premises regulated by the Australian Border Force (ABF). You do require a Corporate Customs Licence to operate a Customs Brokerage and the Customs Broker who works for the Brokerage must also be licensed by (ABF).
Would you say that regulations in place on the freight forwarding and customs brokerage business are adequate or too many/too few?
Australia is highly regulated for any business that operates in this country. For our industry, it is extremely regulated in order to protect our borders and to ensure compliance with import/export trade regulations.
Do you as a nationwide organisation also cooperate with similar entities in other countries? If so, what kind of advantages does that give, again, to be a member?
We have many strategic international memberships with organisations that deal in International Forwarding and Customs matters. The fact that IFCBAA is a high-level member of these international organisations sets us apart in Australia from other logistic providers. With many of these organisations, we are at the chair or director level, enabling our members to utilise these valuable connections if need be.
- FIATA-International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations—Chair / Committee Member.
- FAPAA-Federation of Asia-Pacific Airfreight Association—Chair / Secretariat.
- IFCBA-International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations—Director.
- TIACA-The International Air Cargo Association.
- CBAFF-Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders of New Zealand.
Customs clearance, I presume, is more or less automated nowadays also in Australia, but how do you find the efficiency and transparency of customs clearance in Australia overall?
Yes, customs clearance is automated and has been for some time. ABF has arranged a working group of which I’m a member to examine the next step in further modernisation of its clearance platform.
How is it possible for our members to reach you?