Ship chandling in Belgium
KBBS present itself
KBBS Chairman Jan Vets explains in this insightful piece how the Royal Belgian Shipsuppliers Association is supporting the maritime industry in Belgium.
The Royal Belgian Shipsuppliers Association ( KBBS) has a very long history … going back to 1940 when she was founded, purely out of economical reasons to secure the possibility to deliver ships in the port of Antwerp by combining common interests and safeguarding the availability of goods.
KBBS was among the founding members of ISSA in 1955 and later on in 1976 co-founder of OCEAN. The creation of a European organization proved on many occasions its incredible importance. Remember 1992 when thank’s to OCEAN’s extensive lobbying, we were able to convince the European authorities to exclude the shipsuppliers from VAT and tax liability after opening the EU borders and removing the imminent threat of abolition of tax-free sales within the European Union. The lawmakers at that time accepted our argumentation that the ship supply business is entirely different, as we are engaged in exports out of the EU.
Unfortunately even today the ‘VAT’ issue is still on the table!
The Belgian association embraces all initiatives taken by both organizations promoting and facilitating their industry.
Over the years the composition of our membership base changed quite drastically, following the international trend of globalization of the maritime industry. Where 25 years ago we still had 25 ship chandlers, mainly smaller family-owned entities, this number has been reduced to 8 members although operating on a much larger and more international scale!
The start of the pandemic in 2020 had an impact on our member's businesses. On top of the already very challenging daily issues we were also immediately confronted with supplementary physical restrictions, disturbed supply chains, shrinking international trade .. etc . Of course our customers experienced the same or even worse problems … like crews kept hostage on board for months..etc.
As a ship supplier, we can never diminish our efforts to look for more competitiveness and efficiency. Moreover, with the help and clever use of data, a keen evaluation of this ‘pandemic’ experience, we all need to look for solutions, finding new best practices to adapt better to this crisis.
We can only succeed if we continue to listen even more carefully to our customers, consider them as our ‘partners in crime’ so to speak to overcome this period and look at it as an inevitable obstacle to create opportunities for the future.
Needless to say that as a ship supplier we all do need a genuine and lasting commitment from our customers being shipping lines, shipowners or ship managers. .. to make this happen in the best interest of both parties.
Despite its importance in the maritime industry – if crews cannot eat, vessels will not sail – the ship supply business still can use a boost to be recognized as an indispensable and basic link of the maritime supply chain.