Barcelona: economic crisis, customs agents and forwarders

It’s been a year since we have emerged from the crisis, at least according to the media, that officially erupted in 2008.

Let’s begin, then, to look at the path traveled with some perspective. A good reference is to measure the number of actors that were present in our market in 2007 and compare them with those that are now:

Customs Agents

In 2007 there were some 115 customs agents in Barcelona that advertised as such. Ten years later, the number of independent customs agents present in our area is about 60. That is a decrease of just over 45 percent.

There may be more agents licensed to operate as such, but if there are, it seems that at the moment they’ve lost enthusiasm for opening up an independent space in our market.

Freight Forwarders

The previously “self-appointed” transport architects, commonly known as freight forwarders, and more recently as logistics operators, added more than 275 signatures in Barcelona and its area of influence in 2007.

Now, there are about 255 companies that do it. Consequently, the decrease in the number of actors wanting to compete has barely been 7 percent.

Moreover, and if we tweak the magnifying glass and focus only on the foreign parent operators, we will see that in 2007 they represented 18 percent of the sector, and in 2018 they were the 17 percent.

At this point, it doesn’t seem that there has been an invasion of foreign fishermen taking advantage of the troubled waters of the crisis, to date.

Port of Barcelona

So, what then?

The decrease in the number of forwarders has been very low and if we also compare the number of employees, we could infer that the crisis has hardly affected this sector. But if we review the names of the companies, we will see that more than 100 active firms in 2007 are no longer, as such, present in the market. That is 40 percent of the companies that were before the crisis no longer wear their logo today.

This shows the great effort of restructuring, adaptability, and resistance of these professionals. Gentlemen, show your faces and stand up!

Antwerp, the great referent

At the end of the 90s, when visiting Antwerp, it was surprising to see that most of the customs agents were no more than small departments integrated into the larger and more technical structure of a forwarder.

Antwerp has always been and is a reference!

VR Mercante