USA – White House Announces New Initiative to Improve Supply Chain Data Flow

Last year, the ports and the private sector moved a historic amount of goods with record holiday sales and delivery times below pre-pandemic levels. Currently, real retail inventories excluding autos are six percent higher than at the end of 2019 and products at grocery and drug stores are 90 percent in stock, just 1 percentage point below pre-pandemic levels.

The US government is also focused on addressing the longer-term weaknesses in our nation’s supply chains, the result of decades of underinvestment, outsourcing, and offshoring instead of investment in long-term security, sustainability, and resilience. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is now making a generational investment in our ports, highways, and other parts of our physical infrastructure, which will help speed up the movement of goods and lower costs. But we can further strengthen our goods movement supply chains by making a similarly bold improvement in a digital infrastructure to connect the supply chain.

To take the first step toward addressing this challenge, the US government is announcing the launch of Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW), an information sharing initiative to pilot key freight information exchange between parts of the goods movement supply chain. FLOW includes eighteen initial participants that represent diverse perspectives across the supply chain, including private businesses, warehousing, and logistics companies, ports, and more.  These key stakeholders will work together with the Administration to develop a proof-of-concept information exchange to ease supply chain congestion, speed up the movement of goods, and ultimately cut costs for American consumers. DOT will lead this effort, playing the role of an honest broker and convener to bring supply chain stakeholders together to problem solve and overcome coordination challenges. This initial phase aims to produce a proof-of-concept freight information exchange by the end of the summer.

Recent supply chain disruptions have raised national awareness of the need for improved information exchange. Supply chain stakeholders deserve reliable, predictable, and accurate information about goods movement and FLOW will test the idea that cooperation on foundational freight digital infrastructure is in the interest of both public and private parties. FLOW is designed to support businesses throughout the supply chain and improve accuracy of information from end-to-end for a more resilient supply chain.

Resiliency—the ability to recover from an unexpected shock—requires visibility, agility, and redundancy. The lack of digital infrastructure and transparency makes our supply chains brittle and unable to adapt when faced with a shock. The goods movement chain is almost entirely privately operated and spans shipping lines, ports, terminal operators, truckers, railroads, warehouses, and cargo owners such as retailers. These different actors have made great strides in digitizing their own internal operations, but they do not always exchange information with each other. This lack of information exchange can cause delays as cargo moves from one part of the supply chain to another, driving up costs and increasing goods movement fragility.

View the entire Fact Sheet here!

Source: White House, 15 March 2022

Abu Dhabi Customs joins TradeLens

Abu Dhabi Customs hosted a workshop recently with key Importers and Exporters discussing how TradeLens and digitized transportation documentation has the ability to streamline processes in customs declaration processes.

 “Abu Dhabi Customs is excited to work with a group of importers and exporters to explore the benefits that collaboration using blockchain can offer to all those involved. This joint approach is critical to create time savings in the process and to improve access to international trade to all entities that trade with Abu Dhabi. We really believe TradeLens will be bringing a lot of benefits to our ecosystem here in Abu Dhabi”. – Yanal Qasim Mohammad Alkhasoneh, Division Director – Information Technology, Information Technology Division  

“The collaboration across public and private entities towards a single shared goal was immensely encouraging. The gathering of industry leaders, authorities, and ocean carriers to jointly and openly address international transportation documentation highlights the desire to improve existing processes using innovative digital tools like TradeLens”. – Thomas Sproat, Global Head of Network TradeLens

Source: TradeLens, 9 February 2022

Future International Trade Alliance Launched

https://unsplash.com/@exdigy

ICC, DCSA, BIMCO, FIATA and SWIFT have launched the Future International Trade Alliance and signed a memorandum of understanding to standardise digitalisation of international trade. Together, the industry associations will collaborate on the development and adoption of relevant standards to facilitate the use of electronic bills of lading.

Established to further digitalisation of container shipping technology standards, Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) – a neutral, non-profit group – in conjunction with its nine member carriers, today announced the formation of the Future International Trade (FIT) Alliance with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between DCSA, ICC, BIMCO, FIATA and SWIFT in which the organisations commit to collaborating to standardise the digitalisation of international trade.

Through this initiative, the FIT Alliance will work together to generate awareness about the importance of common and interoperable data standards and common legislative conditions across international jurisdictions and platforms. The aim is to facilitate acceptance and adoption of an eBL by regulators, banks and insurers and to unify communication between these organisations and customers, physical and contractual carriers, and all other stakeholders involved in an international trade transaction.

“The digitalisation of documentation for container shipments will add value for international suppliers who rely on shipping across sectors,” said David Loosley, Secretary General and CEO of BIMCO. “Aligning these standards with the electronic bill of lading standard for the dry and liquid bulk sectors, which we are developing with assistance from DCSA, will help accelerate the digitalisation of trade globally.”

“Interoperability between all actors of the trade and transport industry is the key foundation to enable smooth data exchange and to streamline the end-to-end shipping process for our members,” said Dr. Stephane Graber, FIATA Director General. “FIATA, as the owner of the only negotiable multimodal transport document, endorsed by UNCTAD and ICC, is convinced that an industry-wide effort to establish open-source, interoperable, technology-agnostic standards is essential to make digitalization of international trade a reality. FIATA is committed to facilitating adoption of digital processes for freight-forwarders. We took the lead by developing the electronic FIATA Bill of Lading (eFBL) standard, which will further the acceptance of electronic documents by all stakeholders involved in a bill of lading (B/L) transaction. By simplifying their day-to-day business, our members will be able to focus on building truly differentiated offerings for their customers on top of future-proof digital foundations.”

“ICC represents 45 million companies in over 100 countries, and our mission is to make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere,” said John W.H. Denton AO, ICC Secretary General. “Living up to that means finding ways to make international trade far less complex than it currently is. Through the FIT Alliance, we are collaborating with key industry players to create and accelerate the adoption of digital standards for bills of lading that will make international shipping dramatically more simple, secure and seamless. This will drive a sea change in companies’ productivity and business models, the two critical ingredients to help businesses build back better and unleash benefits at an ecosystem level which have never before been achieved.”

David Watson, Chief Strategy Officer at SWIFT, said: “SWIFT is the way the world moves value, connecting 11,500 institutions in more than 200 countries and facilitating over US$2 trillion in global trade every year. We have significantly accelerated cross-border flows in recent years and are innovating at scale to make them instant. To that end, we are delighted to be part of this cross-industry collaboration to tackle friction through standardisation and enable interoperability across the ecosystem to allow rich data to flow freely between multiple platforms.”

“From the beginning, DCSA has understood the importance of cross-industry collaboration to achieve the elusive goal of universal eBL,” said Thomas Bagge, DCSA CEO. “The FIT Alliance is one exciting result of our ongoing effort to drive that collaboration. Container ships carry 90% of the world’s goods. As such, an incredibly diverse set of stakeholders touches the B/L transaction—from government regulators, to insurers, to shippers from every industry. To achieve widespread use of eBL, they must all be on board with adopting digital B/L standards. The agreement between DCSA and these diverse industry associations is an exciting milestone in our journey towards standardising all container shipping documentation through our eDocumentation initiative. We applaud the foresight and leadership of these organisations for joining us in the effort to bring greater transparency, efficiency, reliability and sustainability to the container shipping industry.”

Source: ICC, 15 February 2022

When will the AfCFTA be customs-ready?

Picture: Grayomm @ Unsplash.com

The negotiations to finalise the tariff schedules and rules of origin (RoO) of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are taking place during the last two weeks of January 2022. Senior Trade Officials (STOs) and the AfCFTA Council of Ministers (COM) will then meet to confirm the results or to decide the outstanding issues. Once the State Parties have agreed on the content of these important Annexes to the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods, they must be adopted. This is the responsibility of the African Union (AU) Assembly.[1]

Trade in goods under AfCFTA preferences can then begin among the State Parties presently trading with each other under most-favoured-nation (MFN) rates. (Non-State Parties will first have to accede to the AfCFTA Agreement in terms of Article 23 of the AfCFTA Agreement.)

Those State Parties that are members of Regional Economic Community (REC) Free Trade Areas (FTAs), Customs Unions (CUs) and other trade arrangements will continue to trade under existing preferential arrangements.

Article 19(2) AfCFTA Agreement provides that

“… State Parties that are members of other regional economic communities, regional trading arrangements and custom unions, which have attained among themselves higher levels of regional integration than under this Agreement, shall maintain such higher levels among themselves”.

Article 8(2) of the Protocol on Trade in Goods adds the following:

“… State Parties that are members of other RECs, which have attained among themselves higher levels of elimination of customs duties and trade barriers than those provided for in this Protocol, shall maintain, and where possible improve upon, those higher levels of trade liberalisation among themselves”. 

However, there is also the practical requirement that the AfCFTA regime must be “customs ready”. It means that the tariff books of individual State Parties and of CUs such as the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and presumably the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), need to be updated. AfCFTA columns will have to be added to these tariff books in order to ensure the new preferences will be enjoyed when customs officials and border control agencies clear goods under this new trade arrangement.

The updating of a tariff book normally happens through national legislative procedures such as the promulgation of a Government Gazette. Customs and other border officials can only act in terms of domestic legal instruments granting them the necessary powers. Trade agreements are not self-executing.[2]

The importation and exportation of goods entail detail procedures involving customs clearance. Customs clearance is the procedure of procuring permission, through its customs authority, to either take goods out of its territory (export) or have goods enter its territory (import). Failure to provide the correct paperwork will mean that goods cannot clear customs and enter the market of the country of destination.

The customs authority of a country is the administrative agency responsible for collecting tariffs and for controlling the flow of goods into and out of a country. Depending on local legislation and regulations, the import or export of some goods may be restricted or forbidden, and the customs agency enforces these rules. The customs authority is different from the immigration authority, which monitors persons who leave or enter the country, checking for appropriate documentation, apprehending people wanted by international arrest warrants, and impeding the entry of others deemed dangerous to the country. A customs duty is a tariff or tax on the importation or exportation of goods.

The approach taken by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) is to improve the security of borders, without unduly hindering legitimate international trade. The WCO initiative focusses on the entire international trade supply chain, rather than restricting customs’ interest to that aspect of the international trade transaction, when goods move across a border. The basic principle underpinning its work is to create an international mechanism for Customs Administrations to gain access to relevant information relating to international trade well in advance, for the purposes of risk management and risk assessment.[3]

The AfCFTA is a free trade agreement (FTA). This is an agreement between States that removes tariffs and other restrictions on goods which are traded between the State Parties, according to the applicable RoO. The main difference between a customs union and a free trade agreement is that even where zero (or reduced) tariffs are part of an FTA, extra bureaucracy is needed to take advantage of those tariffs. Exporting under an FTA means companies have to comply with a complex set of rules (known as preferential rules of origin) to prove that goods only come from countries who have signed up to the FTA and that such goods have been produced or manufactured in accordance with the applicable RoO. For a customs union, once the common external tariff has been paid for a product then it is in “free circulation”. Traders only have to prove the common external tariff has been paid on goods or parts they have used. This is easier to demonstrate than proving the origin of imported goods.

Source: Authored by Gerhard Erasmus, TRALAC, 24 Jan 2022


[1] Art 22 AfCFTA Agreement.

[2] Constitutional systems based on monism, may provide otherwise but will have other requirements to ensure that the executive branch of government respects the powers of the legislature.

[3] https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/a/6/24649.pdf

Nigeria – Lekki Seaport now 80% complete, to be commissioned 2022

The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has urged contractors of the Lekki Deep Seaport Project to speed up work to enable the government approve all the necessary processes before the next election.

Mr Amaechi made this known in a statement on Saturday while inspecting the ongoing construction of the Lekki Deep Seaport Project in Lagos.

He, however, commended the contractors for the progress of work done so far stating that in less than five months, a lot of civil work had been done.

“I want to congratulate you for the very huge progress. By the time we came here, there were no civil works; it was just pure sand. You have tried.

“I am suggesting that if you work day and night you will go far and complete the work before commissioning. If the President sees it, approval will be easier.

“You need to speed up the work so we can get approval from the government side before election, process of election will be completed in July.

“This is because by law, six months to election people start politics and if you wait till that time, you won’t meet anyone in the office,” he said.

Mr Amaechi, however, said that the port should be automated to avoid all forms of physical contact.

Speaking during the tour, the Chief Technical Officer, Lekki Port, Steven Heukelom, explained that construction work on the project was on course and as scheduled.

He noted that dredging and reclamation works had reached 89.93 per cent completion, Quay Wall 85.65 per cent completion, Breakwater 79.66 per cent completion, and the landside infrastructure development 67.82 per cent completion.

He added that this brings total works carried out on the project to approximately 80 per cent completion stage.

Mr Heukelom also informed the minister that work had commenced on the marine services jetty, which the NPA would use to carry out their marine services obligation.

He commended the Acting Managing Director, Mohammed Bello-Koko, for the support and partnership in preparing the port to start operations.

Mr Bello-Koko reaffirmed the agency’s readiness to provide marine services for the port’s operations.

To this end, he disclosed that NPA was procuring tug boats and other necessary infrastructure for the smooth take-off of the Port.

In his remarks, the Chief Operating Officer of Lekki Port, Laurence Smith, reaffirmed the company’s commitment to delivering the project by the fourth quarter of 2022.

He noted that the EPC Contractor, China Habour Engineering LFTZ Enterprise, was working day and night to make this commitment a reality.

Mr Smith expressed confidence that the Port, upon completion, would be a world-class port and would become a regional distribution and transhipment hub for the African region.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Lekki Port is being developed by Tolaram and China Harbour Engineering Company.

The Lagos State Government and NPA are also shareholders in the project company.

The port is scheduled to start port operations by the end of 2022.

Source: PremiumTimesng, 23 January 2022

Former SpaceX Engineers making Electric & Autonomous Railway Vehicles

Former SpaceX engineers banded together to create a new startup looking to make electric and autonomous railway vehicles to revolutionize rail-based freight transport. They have a big task ahead of them.

The railway business is a tough one to break into. It’s a static oligopoly dominated by a few giants sitting on their railroad rights and making minimal investments to maximize profits.

Over the years, railroads were privatized in North America, and the businesses have no issues closing smaller railroads. They often close smaller railroads when they can’t find a way to make money off of them and focus on the most profitable routes with longer trains – often as long as 3 miles.

Despite those issues, freight trains have remained a good solution since they are about four times as efficient as trucks. But, with trucks expected to become electric and autonomous in the coming years, they are going to close the efficiency gap with trains.

Now Matt Soule, a former long-time SpaceX engineer, has partnered with former colleagues at Elon Musk’s space company to launch a new startup, Parallel Systems, developing new electric and autonomous vehicles.

The company just raised $50 million in a Series A funding round and came out of stealth mode with an article in Fortune. The idea is to create small autonomous electric-powered rail vehicles that can enable a different way to use railroads.

You can drop the cargo on individual Parallel Systems vehicles and have them move without waiting for the whole train to be unloaded.

As for the vehicle itself, Parallel Systems vehicles can carry 128,000 pounds, which is more than twice the capacity of a semi-truck. The vehicles have a range of 500 miles on tracks and can charge in about an hour.

Visit Elecktrek’s webpage for the full article and related media.

Amazon is making its own containers and bypassing supply chain chaos

For years, Amazon has been quietly chartering private cargo ships, making its own containers, and leasing planes to better control the complicated shipping journey of an online order. Now, as many retailers panic over supply chain chaos, Amazon’s costly early moves are helping it avoid the long wait times for available dock space and workers at the country’s busiest ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. 

“Los Angeles, there’s 79 vessels sitting out there up to 45 days waiting to come into the harbor,” ocean freight analyst Steve Ferreira told CNBC in November.  “Amazon’s latest venture that I’ve been tracking in the last two days, it waited two days in the harbor.”

By chartering private cargo vessels to carry its goods, Amazon can control where its goods go, avoiding the most congested ports.

“Who else would think of putting something going into an obscure port in Washington, and then trucking it down to L.A.? Most people are thinking, well, just bring the ship into L.A. But then you’re experiencing those two-week and three-weeks delay. So Amazon’s really taken advantage of some of the niche strategies I believe that the market needs to employ,” Ferreira said.

Still, Amazon has seen a 14% rise in out-of-stock items and an average price increase of 25% since January 2021, according to e-commerce management platform CommerceIQ.

“The consumer has been feeling price increases in everything that they’re purchasing,” said Margaret Kidd, Supply Chain & Logistics Technology program director at the University of Houston. “Ultimately, when there’s an increase in the cost of transportation, it gets passed down to the consumer.”

Amazon has been on a spending spree to control as much of the shipping process as possible. It spent more than $61 billion on shipping in 2020, up from just under $38 billion in 2019. Now, Amazon is shipping 72% of its own packages, up from less than 47% in 2019 according to SJ Consulting Group.

It’s even taking control at the first step of the shipping journey by making its own 53-foot cargo containers in China. Containers are in short supply, with long wait times and prices surging from less than $2,000 before the pandemic to $20,000 today.

“Amazon has produced probably 5,000 to 10,000 of these containers over the last two years I’ve been tracking it,” Ferreira said. “When they bring these containers onto U.S. soil, once they unload them, guess what? They get to be used in the domestic system and the rail system. They don’t have to return them to Asia like everyone else does.”

A cargo vessel called the Star Lygra called at the Port of Houston on October 5, 2021, filled with Amazon containers.

“By creating their own containers, they are essentially guaranteeing that equipment is going to be available for them,” said Lauren Beagen, maritime lawyer and founder of Squall Strategies. She was working at the Federal Maritime Commission when Amazon first registered with the agency in 2015, the first indication it was exploring its own ocean freight business. 

Then in 2017, Amazon started quietly operating as a global freight forwarder through a Chinese subsidiary, helping move goods across the ocean for its Chinese sellers who pay to be part of the Fulfilled by Amazon program. Internally, Amazon dubbed this project “Dragon Boat.” 

“They are doing over 10,000 containers per month of the small- and medium-sized Chinese exporters. Amazon’s volume as an ocean vendor — that’s right, you heard me correct, they’re considered an ocean vendor — would rank them in the top five transportation companies in the Trans Pacific,” Ferreira said.

This season, a handful of other major retailers — WalmartCostcoHome Depot, Ikea and Target — are also chartering their own vessels to bypass the busiest ports and get their goods unloaded sooner.

“The real purpose of these vessels when they were built was not containers. It was really lumber, chemicals, grain, agricultural products. But because of the ingenuity and creativity and lack of space, Amazon and many other smart people have quickly figured out how to convert some of these multipurpose vessels to container,” Ferreira said.

For some of the highest-margin goods, Amazon is avoiding ports altogether by reportedly leasing at least ten long-haul planes that can get smaller amounts of cargo directly from China to the U.S. much faster. One of the converted Boeing 777 planes can carry 220,000 pounds of cargo. According to capacity estimates from Ocean Audit, the small 1,000-container freighters being chartered by Amazon and others can hold 180 times that, with the biggest cargo ships carrying more than 3,600 times what the planes can hold.

Another strain on the supply chain is manpower.  

“We’ve been hearing a lot about the great resignation, with a lot of jobs going open and unfilled. So I think companies are looking to get very creative in attracting labor. It might be signing bonuses, higher pay,” said Judy Whipple, supply chain management professor at Michigan State University.

To fight the worker shortage — and a reputation for relentless workload and breakneck speed — Amazon says it’s offering sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000 to all the 150,000 seasonal workers it’s hiring this year. Last year, it hired 100,000 seasonal workers.

“That 50,000 increase in employees this year over last year is probably people to do the unloads. They’ve got these containers coming in at the last second, man, they want to unload those goods and get them on the shelves in the fulfillment centers as quickly as possible,” said John Esborn, who used to run logistics operations for Wayfair and is now the head of international transportation for Amazon aggregator Perch.

The seasonal workers are unloading and loading, picking and packing at more than 250 new facilities Amazon says it’s opened in the U.S. just in 2021 — a clear indication that it planned far ahead for the final bottleneck in the supply chain backlog: warehouse capacity.

Watch the video to learn more about all the bold and costly ways Amazon is avoiding the worst of the supply chain crisis this holiday season.

Source: CNBC, article by Katie Schoolov, 4 December 2021

Visualizing Congestion at America’s Busiest Port

The Busiest Port in America: Los Angeles

U.S. e-commerce grew by 32.4% in 2020—the highest annual growth rate in over two decades. Such rapid growth has resulted in many more goods being imported, leaving America’s western ports completely overwhelmed. 

To help you understand the scale of this issue, we’ve visualized the number of containers waiting at sea in relation to the Port of Los Angeles’ daily processing capacity. 

Stuck at Sea

As of November 2, 2021, the Port of Los Angeles reported that it had 93 vessels waiting in queue. Altogether, these ships have a maximum carrying capacity of roughly 540,000 containers (commonly measured in twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs). 

On the other side of the equation, the port processed 468,059 import containers in September (the most recent data at the time of writing). Because the port does not operate on Sundays, we can conclude that the port can load roughly 18,000 containers each day. 

That capacity seems unlikely to reduce the congestion. Over a two-week timeframe in September, 407,695 containers arrived at the Port of Los Angeles, which averages to around 29,000 containers arriving each day…

Read the full article

Source:VisualCapitalist.com

DP World Komatipoort – Handles First Import

Trade solutions multinational DP World has completed the first transit import through the DP World Maputo port, in Mozambique, to DP World Komatipoort, in South Africa.

This is a significant milestone as it demonstrates that the Maputo port can be seamlessly used as a gateway to South Africa, the company says.

International container imports landed in the Maputo port and destined for the South African hinterland can be moved under bond to Komatipoort where full customs clearance can be provided and made ready for delivery across South Africa.

“The Komatipoort facility as a bonded container depot is a game changer for the Maputo Corridor. The success of the trial brings DP World a step closer to enabling a more cost effective, seamless and efficient user experience for our local customers and enhances trade linkages for countries in the Southern African region,” DP World Maputo CEO Christian Roeder says.

Currently, in South Africa, 69% of maritime imports are transported through the Port of Durban. Local customers now have the option to consider using the Maputo port as a gateway to transport their international freight to Komatipoort where it can be cleared more easily and efficiently for customers based in and around Gauteng.

DP World Komatipoort has a full-service offering and links via the Maputo Corridor to DP World Maputo’s modern and efficient container terminal where there is no vessel and port congestion, as well as fixed berthing windows available to major shipping lines, which provides customers with transport savings and avoids delays for consignees in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng.

Once a shipment is retrieved at the DP World Maputo port, the organisation handles the entire supply chain process from there to Komatipoort without delay and beyond to various areas in the hinterland. While the cost of this service varies per user, the service is estimated to be equivalent in costs or cheaper compared to traditional routing through Durban.

However, it is more efficient, especially for the northern areas of the country, DP World note.

Source: Engineering News, Schalk Burger, 3 May 2021

EU – Import Control System 2 (ICS2)

The European Union makes it a top priority to ensure the security of its citizens and single market. Every year trillions of Euros worth of goods are imported into EU, with the EU-27 now accounting for around 15 % of the world’s trade in goods. The European Union is implementing a new customs pre-arrival security and safety programme, underpinned by a large-scale advance cargo information system – Import Control System 2 (ICS2). The programme is one of the main contributors towards establishing an integrated EU approach to reinforce customs risk management under the common risk management framework (CRMF).

The pre-arrival security and safety programme will support effective risk-based customs controls whilst facilitating free flow of legitimate trade across the EU external borders. It represents the first line of defence in terms of protection of the EU internal market and the EU consumers. The new programme will remodel the existing process in terms of IT, legal, customs risk management/controls and trade operational perspectives.

The EU’s new advance cargo information system ICS2 supports implementation of this new customs safety and security regulatory regime aimed to better protect single market and EU citizens. It will collect data about all goods entering the EU prior to their arrival. Economic Operators (EOs) will have to declare safety and security data to ICS2, through the Entry Summary Declaration (ENS). The obligation to start filing such declarations will not be the same for all EOs. It will depend on the type of services that they provide in the international movement of goods and is linked to the three release dates of ICS2 (15 March 2021, 1 March 2023, and 1 March 2024).

Advance cargo information and risk analysis will enable early identification of threats and help customs authorities to intervene at the most appropriate point in the supply chain.

ICS2 introduces more efficient and effective EU customs security and safety capabilities that will:

  • Increase protection of EU citizens and the internal market against security and safety threats;
  • Allow EU Customs authorities to better identify high-risk consignments and intervene at the most appropriate point in supply chain;
  • Support proportionate, targeted customs measures at the external borders in crisis response scenarios;
  • Facilitate cross-border clearance for the legitimate trade;
  • Simplify the exchange of information between Economic Operators (EOs) and EU Customs Authorities.

For more information on the ICS2 programme, refer to the EU Webpage here!

Source: European Union

Joint WCO-ICAO Guiding Principles and Guidelines to enhance Air Cargo Security and Trade Facilitation

Today, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) released their Joint WCO-ICAO Guiding Principles for Pre-Loading Advance Cargo Information and Joint WCO-ICAO Guidelines on Alignment of the Customs Authorized Economic Operator and Aviation Security Regulated Agent/Known Consignor Programmes. These Guiding Principles and Guidelines are a result of continuous joint efforts over the last 10 years, following serious threats and vulnerabilities to international trade supply chains.

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to facilitate safe and secure vaccine distribution, strong collaboration among Customs, Civil Aviation Authorities and the relevant stakeholders is highly recommended,” said the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya. “WCO and ICAO Members are encouraged to make the best use of advance cargo information for risk assessment as well as to align partnership and security programmes to ensure secure and efficient air cargo supply chains,” he added.

With the new Joint WCO-ICAO Guiding Principles for Pre-Loading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI), another layer is being added to the multi-layered approach to Aviation Security in order to detect Improvised Explosive Devices/Improvised Incendiary Devices (IED/IID) in air cargo. These PLACI principles should not be used as a standalone method of Aviation Security (AVSEC) screening or air cargo security control, but rather to perform an additional assessment of the potential Aviation Security risks represented by a consignment.

These Joint Guiding Principles comprise several key and specific principles to meet the needs and capabilities of both regulators and industry, and provide guidance for the risk analysis process. Combined with intelligence and other information, PLACI consignment data enables regulators to perform an initial assessment of the potential risks posed by a consignment. The results of the initial assessment may also indicate the need for additional action.

In addition, the new Joint WCO-ICAO Guidelines on Alignment of the Customs Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) and AVSEC Regulated Agent/Known Consignor (RA/KC) Programmes seek harmonization and alignment between the WCO AEO and the AVSEC RA/KC Programmes, capitalizing on synergies and thus increasing efficiency, while also reducing duplication of efforts by regulators and burdens on trade.

These Guidelines aim to assist WCO and ICAO Members wishing to assess the similarities between their Customs and AVSEC security programmes, with the intention of further aligning them. This collaborative work should ultimately lead to simplification of procedures and eradication of duplicate security requirements and controls, to the benefit of the authorities and the airline industry. 

Joint WCO-ICAO Pamphlet

Source: WCO website, 16 February 2021

TradeLens – Youredi to offer data connectivity services between supply chain entities

Building on the TradeLens network connectivity Youredi has provided since 2018, 3PLs, shippers and cargo owners can now use their software integration services to connect quickly and flexibly to the TradeLens platform. The Youredi Integration service, is an offering that integrates seamlessly and easily with a wide variety of TMS, ERPs and other supply chain and logistics applications, whether on premise or cloud-based.

Permissioned data sharing across the maritime industry, improving the speed of data connectivity between different stakeholders, plus the need to digitalize and automate workflow processes has been a pain point for the industry for decades.

Youredi will support BCOs, 3PLs, carriers, freight forwarders, ports and terminals, authorities, customs brokers, and any other stakeholders to connect with the TradeLens platform rapidly with a predictable cost, effort and time commitment. Connecting different stakeholders with the platform will create a more transparent container shipping industry in which all parties can collaborate and trust each other.

The Youredi solution takes care of the data translation, so you can always send and receive data in your preferred data standard or format. The solution can work both with structured (rich data) and unstructured (PDFs, scans, images) data. Whenever required, Youredi can also provide data validation and data enrichment logic.

More information about the service available at Youredi TradeLens Connectivity.

Source: TradeLens

HMRC – Border Operating Model with the EU

From 1 January 2021, the transition period with the European Union (EU) will end, and the United Kingdom (UK) will operate a full, external border as a sovereign nation. This means that controls will be placed on the movement of goods between Great Britain (GB) and the EU.

The UK Government will implement full border controls on imports coming into GB from the EU. Recognising the impact of coronavirus on businesses’ ability to prepare, the UK Government has taken the decision to introduce the new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021.

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) published the first iteration of the Border Operating Model in July 2020, setting out the core model that all importers and exporters will need to follow from January 2021 as well as the additional requirements for specific products such as live animals, plants, products of animal origin and high-risk food not of animal origin. We also provided important details of Member State requirements as traders and the border industry will need to ensure they are ready to comply with these, and not just Great Britain (GB) requirements. Indeed, as set out in the recently published ‘Reasonable Worst Case Scenario’ assumptions, it is largely the level of readiness for Member State requirements which will determine whether there is disruption to the flow of goods at the end of the transition period. This is why we have included additional signposting to those requirements throughout the document, and are encouraging all GB businesses not just to ensure their own readiness but also the readiness of EU businesses to whom they export, and throughout their supply chains.

Since July, the HMRC has worked closely with industry to further develop plans for the end of the transition period, and also to respond to industry questions since the publication of the first iteration of the Border Operating Model. This latest iteration of the Border Operating Model provides additional information in a number of key areas as set out below as well as clarifying a number of questions from industry.

You can access the HMRC Border Operating Model here.

Harmonised Message Structures for International Forwarding and Transport Messages on the way

NEWS From the GEFEG Blog

UN COVID-19 project to support data exchange for international supply chain processes

The emergence of COVID-19 has shown an increased demand for coordination, efficient planning, modelling and risk control in many areas. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and its trade related United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) are strongly supporting multilateral engagement for interoperable cross-border standards, such as UN/CEFACT Data exchange Standards.

Multi-Model Transport Reference Data Model Ready for use

Many current regulations, standards, instructions and business capacity-building measures are available already. The comprehensive Multi-modal Transport Reference Data Model (MMT RDM) covers the requirements of international forwarding and transport, including related trade, insurance, customs and other regulatory documentary requirements based on the integration of trade facilitation best practices, developed by UN/CEFACT.

COVID-19 Project lead by GEFEG: Development of a standardised data set for the Transport sector

On behalf of the UN, GEFEG provides the project lead for the COVID 19 project. The project concentrates on ensuring the flow of goods and the transport across the various transport modes. Its overall objective is to set up a multi-modal harmonized set of mainly transport documents as a profile of the UN/CEFACT Multi-modal Transport Reference Data Model (MMT RDM).

The data sets developed include seven electronic exchange messages such as Booking Instruction, Shipping Instruction, Waybill, Bill of Lading, Packing List, Status Messages, Rapid Alert Security Food and Feed (RASFF) and their Business Requirement Specifications (BRSs). It has been checked that every data element with the same name also has the same semantic meaning.

The new profile of the MMT RDM will build a bridge to the already existing electronic exchange formats and allow a better use of state-of-the-art technologies such as block chain and APIs regarding the different transport modes.

Focusing on the different transport modes in the next phase

Additional information will be collected in the next phase, with a stronger focus on the different modes of transport. Results will be reported back to the Multi-modal Transport RDM and change processes initiated regarding relevant yet missing information in the MMT RDM. And last but not least, profiles of the MMT for the different modes of transport, such as air, rail, road, and maritime will be published.

Michael Dill, CEO of GEFEG is looking forward to welcome further participants in the project: It will be important to get advice and hints on any missing data requirements across the various modes of transport! I would like to encourage colleagues involved in transport processes to join the next phase of the project. Your valuable input and expert knowledge would be very much appreciated.”

Interested parties wishing to participate in the project should contact info@gefeg.com with subject detail: New Participant in COVID-19 project.

Source: GEFEG News Blog, dated 16 September 2020

MSC to accelerate e-B/L roll-out in India after successful pilot

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has announced it will accelerate efforts to promote an electronic Bill of Lading (e-B/L) across the maritime industry in response to the crisis brought on by COVID-19. 

In a statement, the carrier said it has been running a pilot scheme alongside its third-party blockchain platform WAVE to introduce the e-BL in India since late-2019. 

MSC’s customers continued to ship goods by using what it called the “reliable and secure digital platform for the fast transfer of trade-related documents”, even through throughout the pandemic, the company said. 

The pandemic caused a drop in TEU volume across the world but as China has resumed exports, congestion has hurt port operations, particularly in India.

The problem has been exacerbated by lockdown measures forcing people to work remotely which has led to vital documents such as the Bill of Lading (BL) being incomplete. 

To mitigate this problem, MSC has said it will offer the WAVE e-BL solution to streamline affected operations and ensure continuity of service.

In the pre-COVID, paper-based process, it would take days for the BL to travel from origin to destination, physically changing hands several times along the way.

“We have had situations where couriers were unable to deliver documents between ports, trade offices and banks due to quarantine measures,” relates Capt. Deepak Tewari, Managing Director at MSC India.

“WAVE mirrors the paper-based process that the shipping and cargo transportation industry is used to, only without physical couriers. 

“Thus, it’s an ideal solution to implement at a time when our customers need to rapidly adjust their processes, as the learning curve is quite low.” he adds.

Captain Deepak Tewari, MSC, also commented: “We have been working with WAVE on introducing and piloting an e-BL solution since 2019. We ran successful pilot projects with some of our customers last year, where we saw first-hand the benefits which arise from digitalising this part of the process. 

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we decided to accelerate our roll-out and offer the e-B/L solution to our broader base of customers.” 

Gadi Ruschin, CEO at WAVE, comments: “Our mission since founding WAVE has been to transform the efficiency and security of international trade documentation through our robust digitisation protocol. 

“We now see ourselves as ‘mission critical’ to ensuring trade can continue as physical movement of people and the paper they carry has been shuttered across the world. It couldn’t come at a more critical time as countries rely on trade to fight COVID-19 and save their economies. 

“We launched this unique onboarding effort to help MSC swiftly onboard stakeholders and navigate the challenges while preparing the carrier to flourish once conditions normalise.”

MSC claimed its e-BL solution can cut BL transit time from days to minutes, without the need for physical contact. The e-B/L is sent using WAVE’s blockchain-based system, which uses distributed ledger technology to ensure that all parties can issue, transfer, endorse and manage trade-related documents through a secure, decentralised network.

Source: Porttechnology, 10 September 2020