The 80-metre John Duigan which has recently commenced service between Geelong, King Island and Bell Bay.

I recently attended a round table event in Burnie held by the Department of State Growth and Trade. The Premier was in attendance as well as senior members of the Department.

The process was to discuss with exporters what they thought were the most pressing issues for Tasmania for the future for ongoing export success.

Indeed the round table was labelled “Tasmanian Trade Strategy 2018-2025” – this is the Tasmanian government asking industry what it needs to do to assist in trade growth for the next eight years.

Attendees were asked to consider a number of questions – the main one being – “What is the number one issue impacting the capacity of your industry to grow exports?”

Pretty much everyone in the room stated that freight was one of their biggest challenges (power charges and payroll tax came in second and third respectively).

This got me thinking. I have been actively spruiking the shiny world of freight in Tasmania for some time now (direct international callers, upgraded capacity in new vessels, new vessel builds, TFES extension for export – by the way, this has been extended to 2022) – from my point of view the capacity and access story has been very good.

But the perception is otherwise by the actual exporters and importers in Tasmania. Cost of freight, time to market, international direct ships, delays to cargoes – all these are raised as significant challenges to shippers (on the North West Coast on this particular occasion) that need to be discussed.

Only three days earlier I attended the Global Shippers Forum in Melbourne where freight and logistics specialists from around the world attended to listen to speakers discuss our ever changing world.

The topic of automation, security and data were mentioned in every presentation and you only have to look as far as Melbourne’s VICT to see one of the world’s most advanced automated terminals in action.

Change is coming. One of the greatest changes is the evolution of e-commerce and the growth of this channel. Consumers are turning more and more online to look to cheaper and faster deliveries of their goods – export full container volume ex-Australia rose 6% in 2017….airfreight rose 30%. Australia Post has its own e-commerce stores in China and door-to-door solutions for exporters in Australia.

The changes are coming in quick and fast and we need to keep abreast of the world above us.

Of course it is not all without its challenges – capacity, security, tax collection, bio security – all of these come with a price tag (note – from 01st July 2018 GST is payable on imports under A$1000.00.  The recent budget has a A$10.00 per container levy for biosecurity from July 2019.

Reminder: On the 6th of July 2018 the Tasmanian Logistics Committee (TLC) and Freight Trade Alliance (FTA) will be partnering to hold the Tasmanian Freight Forum at the University of Tasmania. The event was sold out last year so please secure your spots early.

By Agility Logistics Tasmanian General Manager Brett Charlton