In eComercio Agrario we interviewed Álvaro Partida Lopez, Deputy Director & Head of Communications at Partida Logistics. Since joining the family business, he stands out for his contribution to the development of marketing tasks with the aim of establishing internal communication channels.
By: Bárbara Aguayo Martínez, agri-food journalist @BarbaraAguayoM3
Partida, the reference customs agency in the south of Spain, operates from Algeciras, but in which other ports do you provide services, both nationally and internationally?
We are physically located in Algeciras, but we carry out the customs and para-customs procedures (health, soivre, phyto…) necessary to clear at any customs point in Spain.
We currently operate in Huelva, Seville, Cadiz, Almeria, Murcia, Valencia, Castellon, Alicante, Lleida, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Irun, Bilbao, Vigo, Madrid and Barcelona with goods transported in lorries and containers. However, in countries such as Portugal, Morocco, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy we have partners who assist us in the operations that our clients have in the different European ports.
We are currently working on a project to train European Customs Agents on how to clear at any customs location within the EU. For example, a Dutch agency will be able to clear goods through Spanish ports tomorrow and vice versa. This is a very ambitious project and it is in our plans to make the leap to other markets.
In addition to providing customs and logistics services for goods transported by container and lorry, Partida also provides comprehensive and complete advice to your clients. Which markets do you advise on exports to?
We have a Projects Department, headed by our colleague David Naranjo, a customs representative with more than 15 years of experience in Partida.
We offer advice on foreign trade and customs matters to both established and new companies. The main objective is to create a bond of trust by sharing with them the peculiarities of Customs and Taxes with the legal/tax obligations involved in exporting/importing and that we manage to “speak the same language”.
Mainly, our clients ask us for advice to exchange goods with Morocco, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the USA and countries in Latin America and Asia.
In recent years, you have joined the “digitalisation wave” by providing your clients with new tools. What do these new tools consist of and what objectives do they aim to achieve?
In this sense, we were looking for software that would provide more and new functionalities to benefit the entire company as a whole. Since we made this leap in quality, we have been able to manage administrative (invoicing, accounting and finance) and operational tasks more efficiently.
Clearly, it was essential for customers to see that “we are on the wave”, that they have the tools to see in real time the status of their goods in the ports and that they can have direct access to documentation. In short, we are more agile and transparent than ever.
With regard to the agri-food sector, what weight does this sector have within your business and what is required to provide a good service?
The agri-food sector has a considerable weight and importance, around 75% of the total goods we dispatch.
The import department is divided into lorries (loads from Morocco) and containers (from Latin America, South Africa, Kenya, etc.). The export departments have destinations in Africa, USA, Canada and Asia, and transit with goods from Morocco with direct destination to European countries and the UK. We are specialists in Fruit logistics with fruit and vegetable products for import, export and transit operations. In this sense, Brexit is very much focused on this area.
Managing this huge amount of goods movement requires long opening hours as well as a well-trained workforce and IT tools. However, although we have all the best equipment and we are highly qualified in our day to day work, we also depend on the agility of the different bodies to obtain their conformity and release the goods. In this sense, the Port of Algeciras, Customs and the para-customs agencies work from Monday to Sunday, being the only ones in Spain with these characteristics.
During the year 2021 and with the pandemic in the middle, to what extent were the flows of goods affected for the company? Did it mean any kind of losses?
2021 has been a very positive year as we managed to improve the 2020 figures despite the difficulties we are all aware of.
The rapid but necessary technological changes that have taken place as a result of the pandemic and the trust of current and new customers have helped us to continue to differentiate ourselves in the sector and continue to be a benchmark Customs Agency in Spain.
With regard to losses, our day-to-day business was not affected by the restrictions, as our activity is essential for the proper functioning of logistics chains. From my point of view, all of us involved in the chain are happy that recognition has finally been given to all the people and organisations that work in logistics.
To what extent has Brexit changed export relations with the UK?
Brexit has added complexity to trade relations, added administrative and logistical tasks and increased costs.
From one day to the next, the UK left Europe and borders emerged, which translates into customs formalities. For those organisations that did not trade goods with countries outside the EU, it has been a much more tedious change than for those firms that did export/import into international markets.
Overnight, the shift from issuing a simple delivery note to issuing a commercial invoice with more information for buying/selling goods to the UK, to processing customs and para-customs formalities both inbound and outbound, and to having to familiarise themselves with Incoterms to divide tasks and responsibilities between exporters and importers.
Carriers became key players in achieving effective coordination and avoiding delays due to lack of documentation at borders.
In short, Brexit is here to stay and the sooner companies get to grips with the changes, the better. And this has only just begun, from 1 July 2022, when the phytosanitary certificate comes into force, we will see more complexity than ever before. But we will be there to provide a fast and professional service.