Transport & Logistics Newsalert

Welcome to the 11th edition of our PwC Belgium Transport and Logistics Newsalert.
These T&L Newsalerts keep you updated on recent developments, news and trends within the sector.
Enjoy the read!

The 11th edition covers the following topics:


17th Annual CEO Survey – Capitalising on global trends

This survey, launched on 21 January in Davos, shows how CEOs are searching for growth in a still challenging environment. We surveyed 1,344 business leaders across 68 countries around the world. 

As part of the research we surveyed 101 transportation & logistics leaders in 43 countries, and conducted in-depth interviews with Brian Molofe, Transnet and Angeliki Frangou, Navios Group of Companies.

The key findings for the T&L industry are:

We found that transportation & logistics CEOs have some big worries, like infrastructure readiness, but they’re more optimistic in this year’s CEO Survey. They’re focusing on developing a strong workforce, where they need it, but talent strategies still need to keep up. And they’re improving their environmental footprint too.

Still battling the storm - Global Shipping Benchmarking Analysis 2013

We are now in the fifth year of our annual Global Shipping Benchmarking Analysis, in which we provide an overview of the factors that impacted the shipping industry in the previous year and analyse how these have been reported by a large number of shipping companies from around the world.

Year 2012 was marked by sluggish economic growth and geopolitical turmoil. The shipping crisis deepened even further and almost all shipping subsectors underwent the most challenging market conditions in a long time.

Even though the macroeconomic fundamentals for 2013 are expected to show a gradual upturn, performance in the first half of 2013 indicates that downward pressures persist, with only a couple of exceptions that give some cause for optimism.

In the current publication, we have also chosen to look at sustainability reporting for shipping for the second year in a row. Our analysis shows that shipping is still lagging behind other industries in this field with only a minority of shipping companies reporting about sustainability. Sustainability reporting is still viewed as a matter of compliance by the majority of shipping companies rather than a tool to communicate strategy and competitive advantage.

Reducing risks through direct representation

As of 1 August 2012, direct representation for customs purposes has been a fact in Belgium. Direct representation was introduced by means of a Circular Letter of the customs authorities and was recently formally referenced in legislation.

The direct representative and the represented party

Direct representatives act in the name and on behalf of the person or company they represent. Therefore, the representative is not be considered a declarant as referred to in article 4, 18) of the Community Customs Code. A key condition when considering direct representation is that the representative should hold a proxy to file the customs declaration. To act as a direct representative, it is not required to be a customs broker. A direct representative should however be established in the EU and be identified by an EORI number.

Responsibility and liability

With respect to liability, a direct representative is not jointly liable together with the importer for the elements declared in the customs declaration. This is a key difference compared to indirect representation.

Note however that such limited responsibility requires a strict implementation of direct representation. The direct representative is liable for completing the customs declarations correctly and the contents declared. When a discrepancy is declared, the direct representative should prove that they completed the declaration based on the information received and that they acted within the scope of the provided proxy. As long as these conditions are met, the limited liability applies.

Therefore, when the customs debt is fixed, i.e. at the moment of acceptance of a customs declaration, the declarant is liable to pay this customs debt. Given the fact that the direct representative cannot be considered the declarant, and there is no joint liability, the represented importer should account for the payment of the customs debt and should comply with all other arrangements following the filing of the customs declaration by the direct representative.

Direct representation is however not possible for all types of customs declarations. This is the case for transit declarations, all licenses relating to simplified procedures and licenses on archiving of declarations and annexes. In these cases, the declarant must act for themselves and accept personal liability. With respect to simplified procedures, one can be directly represented only in cases where the license holder is AEO certified (certificate type C or F). In these cases, the license holder is considered to be sufficiently knowledgeable to accept liability.

Financial advantages for logistics providers

Direct representation

Moving from indirect representation and opting for direct representation allows customs brokers to limit their liabilities and financial risks. Under direct representation, the credit line of the represented party is used, which provides an additional financial benefit for the direct representative. Hence, the usually rather high outstanding guarantee relating to the credit line can be reduced.

Deferment of payment of VAT

Pre-financing can be further limited from a VAT perspective. Taking into account the abolishment of the cash guarantee that needed to be set aside in respect to the import VAT deferment license, logistics providers should advise their importing clients to apply for this license. The import VAT no longer needs to be pre-financed in cash or via a customs credit account, again decreasing the related bank guarantee.

With the introduction of direct representation, combined with the abolishment of the guarantee required for the import VAT deferment account, the financial risks of representation have been diminished significantly.


For further information, contact: : Nico Bogaerts


The ‘new normal’ for airport investment

Airlines and airports today are looking at an uncertain future. This world of uncertainty is the “new normal” explored in PwC's report, The new normal for airport investment. It explains why -  instead of planning for a new phase of constant straight-line growth -  investors will need to adjust their strategies to ink the best deals in the “new normal”.

They will need to understand what government stakeholders want to get out of an airport; how to reduce costs and develop new business in an age of uncertainty and resource constraints; and explore opportunities arising in emerging markets’ aviation sectors.

The good news is that, despite the worldwide economic downturn, most airports are still making money. By understanding the new landscape, investors can identify the most promising of those opportunities, manage the risks, and shorten the odds of gaining the best returns.

In PwC's report, The new normal for airport investment, we guide sector players with strategies for operating within this new set of conditions.

Intersections Q4 2013

Transportation & logistics industry mergers and acquisitions analysis

Intersections, a quarterly analysis of global merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the T&L industry, provides an overview of the most recent M&A results and our expectations for future deal activity.

Mergers and acquisitions in the transportation and logistics (T&L) sector closed strong, but the weak pace of M&A announcements earlier in 2013 kept annual volume and value totals near ten-year lows. In 2014, acquirers are expected to continue their focus on local deals. Valuations seem likely to remain high.

Several trends are expected to affect the values and locations of deals in the T&L sector, including:

  • US and Eurozone announcements remain well below pre-economic crisis levels
  • The geographic focus on deal activity has generally shifted toward emerging markets such as China
  • Local-market deals are popular, and the industry is trending toward fewer and smaller deals
  • Infrastructure targets accounted for the majority of mega deals in 2013
  • With US airline consolidation mostly complete, activity is likely to focus more on cross-border minority stakes and antitrust immunity agreements
  • Shipping deals may increase, although anti-competition laws mean that alliances and vessel sharing agreements are more likely than large M&A deals
  • Trucking and logistics seem ripe for consolidation

Launch the data explorer on this page for a deeper dive into the data.


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