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Thai International Freight Forwarders Association: 36 Years as a United Voice for Freight Forwarders

The freight forwarding industry has seen vast expansion in Thailand since the 1980s when demand for imports and exports first began to skyrocket. With industries such as the automotive, electronics, agriculture, furniture and manufacturing sectors all relying heavily on the reliable movement of goods throughout Thailand and to international markets, the need for a more regulated system was essential to allow Thailand’s freight forward industry to remain competitive within international freight and logistics sectors. Therefore, the Thai International Freight Forwarders Association (TIFFA) was established to promote and regulate the freight forwarding industry in Thailand.  

Just seven years after Thailand saw a big boost in demand for its cargo imports and exports, TIFFA was established to mitigate the unregulated nature of the industry which had seen haphazard growth up until that point. The association’s concept was devised by a group of freight forwarders who came together with the goal of forming a governing body which would oversee the sector’s development. The association’s goal was to bring better regulation to the import and export markets for increased economic growth.  

This was particularly essential in the automotive market as Thailand saw many car parts arriving in the country from overseas which would then be assembled in Thailand and sent through the country via freight links to ports for international shipping. Therefore, as the automotive industry was so lucrative for Thailand, the founding freight forwarding companies of TIFFA needed a way to ensure that the movement of such valuable cargo was supported by the same regulatory standards seen across the world, to ensure its exports remained competitive in global markets.  

The original members of the association submitted the proposal for a freight forwarders association to the Board of Trade in Thailand (BoT), which was fully supported and then registered with the Ministry of Commerce. After this registration, TIFFA was officially inaugurated in March 1987 and saw an increase in members joining the association over the coming years. Currently, over 250 members ranging from ordinary to association members make up TIFFA, with the combined goal of developing the country’s freight forwarding industry to keep cargo moving throughout the country and onto the ports and airports.  

Alongside the Association’s work to promote the industry and provide a united voice for its concerns, TIFFA also has 4 business units which work alongside the associations to provide an even greater integrated scope of services designed specifically to enhance the transport and its related infrastructure across Thailand. The first unit is the TIFFA Transport business, which operates its fleet of freight vehicles across its network in Thailand. The fleet includes a range of vehicles from pick-up trucks, 6 and 10-wheelers, flatbeds, low-beds and trailers. By providing customers across Thailand with its cost-effective prices, as well as a range of value-added services, TIFFA continues to accelerate the freight forwarding industry and provide international recognition  

To promote the education and training surrounding the freight forwarding industry, TIFFA has established The International Transport and Business academic institute. The school focuses on both theoretical and practical training surrounding the international transport industry and its associated businesses. The educational hub aims to upgrade the level of knowledge and expertise of the freight forwarding industry which will create a more experienced workforce ready to take the freight forwarding industry of Thailand to the next level.  

Working specifically with the importers, exporters, freight forwarders and carriers operating in Thailand, TIFFA provides a range of integrated services through its Inland Container Depot (ICD). The ICD was granted a 10-year concession from the State Railway of Thailand to operate and manage the facility, which covers one of the most active terminals in Bangkok. TIFFA’s presence in such a pivotal terminal for the country ensures that its freight-forwarding members have access to international markets thanks to the integrated services TIFFA offers at the ICD.  

The final business unit for TIFFA looks towards the future of the industry with TIFFA EDI Services which leverages its network with internet-based technologies to move Thailand’s freight forwarding to the next wave of growth. EDI provides internet-related application services, to help address the challenges of local and international freight forwarding business. This will help freight forwarding with both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) markets.  

To ensure that the members of TIFFA continue to be supported, the Association also hosts a yearly general meeting to bring together key stakeholders within the logistics and freight industries on both local and national levels. This allows for a useful platform where member associations and companies can network with key players in the sector, and learn about the best practices to continue to develop on both a company and industry level. The last conference was held in March and saw lectures covering topics such as the sustainability of the logistics industry in Thailand, and the implementation of digital logistics in freight forwarding. The conferences provide a yearly celebration of the industry, whilst focusing on education that will see the association into the next generation of its operations.  

Overall, TIFFA has spent the last 36 years working to develop, regulate and promote the freight forwarding industry of Thailand. With crucial business lines which are working to support, develop and set up the industry for the future, TIFFA has marked itself as a key player in both local and international freight forwarding industries. As the demand for cargo continues to soar across the globe, we look forward to seeing how TIFFA continues to maintain its role at the helm of Thailand’s freight forwarding industry, as its member associations work to move the freight forwarding industry towards the future.