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The freight forwarding and customs clearance sector is a major facilitator of trade in South Africa and it co-ordinates over 80% of the country’s international trade. The value and growth of the market is entirely dependent on local and global economic conditions and trade, over which it has no control. Profit margins are low as charges are dependent on the cost of logistics, port and airport tariffs and the cost of customs duties and import and export permits. Trade statistics show the industry moved R795bn worth of exported goods and R792bn of imported goods from January to August 2018, representing year-on-year increases of 5% and 10.4% respectively.
Opportunities and Challenges
Transport-related infrastructure projects are expected to increase intra-regional and global trade requiring freight forwarding and customs clearance services. The sector includes a number of globally competitive companies offering a total supply chain service. The industry is entirely dependent on volumes requiring transportation created by other elements of the supply chain. A World Bank report reflects a significant drop in the performance of South Africa’s logistics industry in terms of reliability of supply chain and service delivery. The sector is also faced with an increasing number of digital disruptors, including tech-forwarders, which can be a threat to the traditional freight forwarding model.
This report focuses on the freight forwarding and customs clearing industry and excludes courier activities and the arrangement of freight insurance. It examines current conditions and future opportunities and challenges for the industry in South Africa, on the continent and globally. Profiles of 42 companies include Grindrod, which has unbundled and separately listed its shipping business on the Nasdaq and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Barloworld Logistics Africa, which has acquired KLL Distributors.