Customized Advocacy for Customs Brokers

For more than a century, the International Freight Forwarders & Customs Brokers Association of New Orleans has met the specific needs of its members while doing its part to uplift the trade industry as a whole.

As she speaks about the issues affecting her members within the trade industry in New Orleans, it becomes instantly obvious that Kristi App might very well be THE authoritative voice on the subject.

After all, she is the Vice President of Business Development for global logistics giant J.W. Allen – a deadline-driven business App found comfort in immediately after college. Not to mention she’s the president of the International Freight Forwarders & Customs Brokers Association of New Orleans (IFFCBANO), a title her father, William, once held within an organization that to App feels a lot like family.

“I mean, my summer vacations as a kid were spent at IFFCBANO conferences, so all of this is second nature,” App says. “I’m a third generation freight forwarder and customs broker, so it’s a personal and professional history with the association, and it’s something I have a lot of passion for.”

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Comprised of 38 freight forwarder/custom broker members and 80 associate members (businesses and entities indirectly tied to the industry such as trucking lines, warehouses, and ports), the IFFCBANO prides itself as a banner-waver for the local trade community and a sounding board for the exchange of dialogue and information in support of the timely movement of goods and aiding the individual growth of member companies. The non-profit develops close, reciprocal working relationships with every U.S. government agency tied to international shipping, thus ensuring the interests of its members – an important piston within the local economy – are tended to and protected.

“We position ourselves as an association to be in the middle and cover the entire supply chain,” App says, “because that’s what we’re all striving for – increasing efficiency and safety in making sure cargo gets to and fro.”

The IFFCBANO continues to lend a helpful hand to industrial havens like the Port of South Louisiana in attracting massive job creators to the region, answering any and all customs and logistical questions or concerns that potential new or relocating companies might possess. At the same time, it actively promotes the advantages of shipping through the New Orleans area. The IFFCBANO also actively lobbies local and national officials regarding projects/procedures that have a direct impact on customs brokers/freight forwarders, such as deepening the Mississippi River to 50 feet and difficulties with the U.S. Customs’ Automated Commercial Environment system used to electronically facilitate the importing and exporting of goods. App calls the ACE system, which transitions away from a paper process, a “game changer” though not in a positive way.

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Exactly what the IFFCBANO tackles is determined during regular monthly meetings, at which various committees, such as the Government Affairs Committee, the Transportation Committee and the Customs Committee to name a few — all comprised of IFFCBANO members — present reports on different aspects of the trade industry.

“We talk about everything at those meetings, from membership to political awareness and government affairs,” App says. “We all read journals and trade publications about what’s going on, but it’s in those meetings that we address the matters that affect us locally and how we feel about those issues. Are we all on the same page? Some may support it. Some may not. But I’d say for the most part, we have a pretty good synergy within our members in believing what’s good for the individual is good for the whole.
“New Orleans and Louisiana is a unique place in that it’s not the Hatfields and the McCoys, per se; it’s everybody kind of works together for a common goal.”
By William Kalec

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