By Leo Ryan, AJOT As in many countries, freight forwarders in Canada are grappling with new business and regulatory issues in a complex environment rendered still more formidable by a slow recovery from the global recession.  Magnifying the challenges for Canada it shares long common border with the United States, where more than one billion dollars worth of goods transits each day. “There is no question that increasing complexity and regulatory change on several fronts are the biggest challenges facing Canada’s international trade community,” declares Ruth Snowden, president of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA). “Changes to air cargo security regulations on both sides of the border, for example, are impacting the smooth flow of air cargo,” Snowden told AJOT. “More importantly, every organization participating in cross-border trade must invest both human resources (management time) and hard dollars in bringing new and constantly changing regulations and new learning into their organizations. “Whether it is air cargo security or new US Import Security Filing (ISF) 10+2 requirements, costs are on the way up,” Snowden notes. Snowden also remarked that “Canada’s eManifest project is consuming hundreds of hours of intense stakeholder input. When it hits the border this summer, business in Canada will be changed completely.” The ISF filing to US Customs  Border Protection is separate from the carrier’s manifest and the broker’s import entry. As of January 26, 2010, filing the ISF is the responsibility of all importers, who must file at least 24 hours before a shipment by vessel can be loaded for transport. Failure to do so leads to a penalty of $5,000 for each violation. How does the ISF affect Canadian freight forwarders? Robert Walker, chair of the CIFFA Customs Committee, points out: “For cargo via air, rail, or truck from Canada, these regulations will not apply. However, they do apply to coastal or lake (Great Lakes) vessels moving from Canadian ports to US ports. Timeliness will be essential here for anyone involved in this shortsea shipping to the USA or for anyone tendering Canadian exports on vessels that call at a US port before sailing overseas.” another area, several incidents last year prompted  CIFFA’s Snowden and Canadian freight forwarders to complain about a lack of reciprocal agreement between  Canada and the US on container inspection at ports. One US-destined container singled out for inspection by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at Prince Rupert was delayed for three weeks, and was held up again when re-inspected in the United States. An export container examined in Vancouver missed two sailings, incurring an additional cost of $7,000. It was then taken off a vessel at Seattle even though it was FROB (Freight Remaining on Board). In Snowden’s view, such delays adversely affected Canada’s Pacific Gateway and Atlantic corridor initiatives. On the air cargo front, competition between forwarders has intensified as many shippers have been asking service providers for big rate reductions if they want to save their business. Profit margins, thus, have been sacrificed to cash flow. At the same time, airlines have been trimming capacity – with Air Canada no exception. “Generally speaking, today’s rules, regulations, shortage of equipment and demand have certainly made for challenging days ahead for all freight forwarders,” stated Andre Leclerc,  sales manager of Toronto-based Advantex Express Inc. “Moreover,” Leclerc said, “sometimes customers want the cheapest rates to the point that the service provider has to walk away.” Advantex Express offers a wide range of logistics and customers brokerage services in Canada and the United States. Michael Dart, the company’s operations manager, analyzes some of the problems linked to new developments in ocean and rail transportation. “From an import standpoint,” he relates, “forwarders, co-loaders, local cartage companies and customs brokers must