The introduction of the new generation digital FIATA Bill of Lading (FBL) has been confirmed and will be launched by the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) as a new standard to members and exporters for use across the Supply Chain in South Africa.
This development will positively impact supply chain efficiencies and South Africa’s competitive position as a provider of world class logistics services, says Dr Juanita Maree, Chief Executive Officer of SAAFF.
South Africa hosted the Annual Rotational Presidency meeting of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders (FIATA) in Cape Town earlier this month. The FIATA delegation, led by President Ivan Petrov had the opportunity to delve deeper into the South African supply chain logistics sector during their visit, in consultation with industry leaders. Terry Gale, representing Exporters Western Cape and the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF) welcomed the imminent introduction of the digital FBL.
Industry recognises the digital FBL and its proven tracking service as a strong solution that will add capacity and increase security of cargo movement through the entire logistics process – a valuable development in a challenging trading environment.
In global terms, the Bill of Lading is recognised as the most important document used in the transportation of goods, FIATA’s Multimodal Transport Bill of Lading is seen as the benchmark; long-standing but in constant evolution and acknowledged by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) as a document fully aligned to the UNCTAD/ICC Rules for Multimodal Transport.
This new generation secured digital FBL and tracking solution allows FIATA to protect against fraudulent manipulation and to promote a digital ecosystem of trust for transport and trade documents. It supports transparency and security across the supply chain and will help member companies accelerate their digitalisation efforts. The digital FBL data model is fully aligned with the UN/CEFACT MMT Reference data model to ensure its interoperability with other standards and all trade parties.
Verifiable at any time by legitimate stakeholders interacting with the document, which dramatically reduces fraud risk, the digital FBL can be issued in digital and paper format and cannot be tampered with, with each document also being recorded on an immutable ledger. Stakeholders will be able to access the document audit trail through a unique QR code or on FIATA’s verification portal to certify the validity of the document, the integrity of its issuer and the integrity of its content.
The tracking solution used by FIATA for the digital FBL is already implemented and used by banks, corporates, warehouses, and inspection companies to protect other documents. Software providers worldwide make the secured digital FBL accessible in 17 territories so far through FIATA Association members. Forwarders can implement the digital FBL solution on their own in-house system or use a free digital FBL generator tool.
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.”
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.
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, a global leader in container shipping and logistics, is officially introducing the electronic bill of lading (eBL) for its customers around the world, following a successful pilot phase, using a solution on an independent blockchain platform WAVE BL. The eBL enables shippers and other key supply chain stakeholders to receive and transmit the bill of lading document electronically, without any change or disruption to day-to-day business operations.
WAVE BL is a blockchain-based system that uses distributed ledger technology to ensure that all parties involved in a cargo shipment booking can issue, transfer, endorse and manage documents through a secure, decentralised network. Users can issue all originals, negotiable or non-negotiable, and exchange them via a direct, encrypted, peer-to-peer transmission. It’s also possible for users to amend documents. WAVE BL’s communication protocol is approved by the International Group of Protection & Indemnity Clubs, and meets the highest industry standards for security and privacy.
“MSC has chosen WAVE BL because it is the only solution that mirrors the traditional paper-based process that the shipping and cargo transportation industry is used to,” says André Simha, Global Chief Digital & Information Officer at MSC. “It provides a digital alternative to all the possibilities available with traditional print documents, just much faster and more secure.”
The WAVE BL platform can be used free of charge throughout 2021 for exporters, importers and traders. Users only pay for issuing the original documents, and they do not need to invest in any IT infrastructure or make operational changes in order to use the service. They can simply sign up via MSC’s website: www.msc.com/eBL.
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!
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.
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.
The new container terminal at the Namibian Port of Walvis Bay is now fully operational, according to a report by the African Development Bank (ADB).
In a statement, the ADB said the terminal was built on constructed on 40 hectares of land reclaimed from the ocean by China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) as part of a project worth $300 million.
It will, according the the bank, turn Walvis Bay into becoming a logistics hub for southern Africa to meet the growing regional demand for freight and provide maritime access for landlocked countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
The African Development Bank provided a ZAR 2,982 million ($178 million) loan representing over 70% of the project funding.
The works included the dredging over 3.9 million cubic metres of sand, used partly for the reclamation, construction of a 600-metre quay wall, the laying of 304,000 square metres of paved surface and the construction of a workshop and administrative buildings.
It also entailed the installation of four ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, the construction of a one-kilometre road, the laying of 2.3 km of rail lines, and the installation of service networks. The facility’s electricity supply was also successfully upgraded, the report noted.
“Overall, the project has fully achieved its goals,” the report said, increasing the terminal’s capacity from 355,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit) to 750,000 TEUs yearly. It has also reduced vessel waiting time to less than 8 hours and cut container transit time from 14.5 days to 9.5 days.
Expanded activities required the training of seven pilots and 26 ship-to-shore crane operators, including one woman.
The demand for services from the port of Walvis Bay has increased by about 8% following the commissioning of the new terminal, the report notes. Cargo volumes, revenues and income from other services (maritime, port, berth and light dues, and other storage and handling fees) are expected to increase by at least 8% in 2020 and 2021. After that, growth should reach 5% yearly the report projects.
The project completion reporting team was led by Richard Malinga, Bank Principal Transport Engineer and Task Manager for the project.
The Walvis Bay expansion aligns with the Bank’s High-5 strategic priorities, including promoting the integration of Africa.
But for as much as shipping has changed over the decades, not much about the bill of lading (BL) has. Today, it’s pretty much the same often-paper, always-time-consuming document it ever was.
That’s why driving an eBill standard is largely considered the Holy Grail of global trade. Succeed in that, and partners up and down the supply chain would benefit from the days and weeks that paper BLs add to the process as they are printed, pouched, messengered, lost, found and waited upon.
It’s ironic because there isn’t a single aspect of the BL that couldn’t be done better digitally. To demonstrate, let’s dive into the essence of these documents and the challenges that remain to making them digital.
How does an original paper bill of lading work?
Once the vessel departs, an original BL can be issued by the ocean carrier. After the shipper endorses the original bill, it is couriered to the buyer who then needs to surrender it back to the carrier at destination as part of the cargo release process.
It sounds simple enough, but along the way the BL impacts many other processes and actions. Even before issuance, the time-consuming process from a shipping instruction to the issuance of a verified BL, many iterations and changes can occur to get the BL into an approved state.
The BL, and its critical data fields are required for customs clearance, letter of credit, change of title and other processes. One delay in any of these can result in costly extra charges.
The functions of a bill of lading were made to be done electronically
In oftentimes convoluted international shipments, the BL is the legal go-to document that facilitates negotiation, lending and risk reduction by performing three key functions:
1. It is evidence of a contract of carriage
2. It confirms receipt of goods
3. It serves as the title to the goods
So, can eBill perform these functions while maintaining the integrity and legality that’s required? The P&I Clubs think so. Today’s top eBill solutions meet these challenges through rule frameworks and advanced security measures — all while providing significant cost and time savings.
eBills can play a pivotal role — and a digital role
Carriers issue the BL, but they rely on information from shippers which may change multiple times during the booking and shipper’s instruction processes. Electronic features like structured documents make creation, approval, distribution, tracking — everything — easier than paper.
This benefits not only the shippers but the carriers, buyers, sellers and banks without having the need to continue to print out paper — which defeats the purpose
Digital does the different types of bill of lading better
There are many types of BL, reflecting the complexities of international trade. Eliminating paper is only the beginning of the ways eBills can help streamline processes related to the two main categories of BL:
Sea Waybills are sometimes referred to as “Express Release.” They have a named consignee on them but are issued without any original documents that have to be presented for the release of the cargo. Non-negotiable and non-transferable, they are usually used in three cases:
Intra-company shipments between divisions located in different countries
Shipments when no negotiations take place between the seller and the consignee
Instances when the shipper doesn’t have to submit an original BL to any party in order to secure their payment
Original BLs have different forms that all hinge on the issuance of original BL documents in some way.
· Order BLs are the most common type of BL. They enable delivery of the cargo to be made “To Order” to the bonafide holder of the BL. These types of BL are negotiable and often linked to letter of credit transactions. Often banks must verify and endorse the original BL before the cargo can be released to the buyer.
Straight BLs stipulate that the cargo may only be released to the specified consignee and only upon the surrender of an original BL.
Open BLs are negotiable and transferable. The name of the consignee can be changed with the consignee’s signature and transferred — often multiple times.
Going Digital assists in filling out the bill of lading
With shippers providing the majority of the information for a BL, completeness and correctness is crucial. eBills help guide the way. If shippers can provide bill of lading information digitally, there’s less risk of keying errors. Form fields and autofill features all speed the process and lead to time savings.
One of the challenges of going paperless with BLs from the very beginning is standards. Adhering to set data standards makes information useful for different parties within organizations and multiple supply chain partners and it enables seamless workflows from automation. Unfortunately, standards are far from being standard today.
Digital makes the information included in a BL more useful
Users look to the bill of lading as an infallible source of essential and comprehensive information like names and addresses, purchase orders or reference numbers, special delivery instructions, pickup date, description of items, packaging type, NMFC freight class and DOT hazmat designations.
eBills of lading can make this information highly transparent to supply chain partners who can use it. But like many of the benefits of eBills, this transparency hinges on adoption — if all the participants of the supply chain are rowing together digitally, it works. If not, it just makes for another manual process that may end up being even more work than paper.
With its centrality to supply chains and essentiality to digitizing global trade, it’s easy to understand why the industry has its sights set on digitizing this important document. But acceptance of the eBill remains both the goal and the greatest challenge today. That’s why getting the eBill to catch on will require successfully digitizing the entire process for eBills, too.
TradeLens, with its relationships with the world’s largest ocean carriers, is in a unique position to explore the digitization of this process at an unprecedented scale. Within an ecosystem where there’s already widespread acceptance, the potential of the eBill could finally be revealed.
A companion guide in support of increased compliance in the reporting of goods and conveyances (RCG) to Customs, South Africa.
Necessary information for – Air, Sea and Road carriers, vessel’s agents, NVOCCs, freight forwarders, Air and Sea terminal operators, container depot operators, transit shed operators and de-grouping depots. Also, all private software service providers to the trade.
The guide offers easy navigation through –
registration and electronic trading with SARS Customs
the various electronic messages mandated by law, covering import and export movements, across all modes of permissible international transportation
message types for each transaction type
scenarios to facilitate easier understanding across operators in the supply chain on how the various electronic reports are sequenced, ensuring that Customs formulates a comprehensive end-2-end view of a international trade transaction
reference webpages, official notifications, Customs rules and other pertinent information concerning cargo reporting.
All information is hyperlinked to SARS documentation, found on the official SARS website www.sars.gov.za
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has expanded its pilot of a new, voluntary scheme to try to improve the security of low-value shipments entering US borders.
The Section 321 Data Pilot is focused in particular on e-commerce, and aims to improve data-sharing between online marketplaces, carriers, technology firms and logistics provider to help protect American consumers from illicit goods arriving by air, ocean, truck, or rail.
That includes, “illicit narcotics, unregulated prescription drugs, brand counterfeits, and unsafe food and beauty products”, according to the CBP, which plans to run the pilot until August 2021.
Nine companies have been selected to participate in the pilot, including e-commerce giants Amazon and eBay, carriers Zulily, FedEx, DHL and UPS, as well as technology firm PreClear and logistics providers XB Fulfillment and BoxC Logistics.
CBP has said that it plans to expand access to all interested and qualified participants “in early 2020.”
The participants will provide cargo origin, content, tracking, recipient and other information to CBP upfront, in addition to the information that is currently legally required for Section 321 shipments – in other words one shipment per day for eligible importers, individuals or companies with a value of $800 or less.
CBP says it wants to see whether having that additional information will enable it to perform “more effective and efficient targeted screening” of these low-value shipments.
Research published in 2018 has suggested that two-thirds of counterfeit goods intercepted by customs around the world are discovered in small parcels sent through postal or courier services.
In part because they are harder for customs officials to track and seize, and also because in many jurisdictions they have not required detailed manifests for their contents. The US stepped up the manifest requirements for Section 321 shipments from January 1, 2019.
CBP broadened the scope of the 321 Data Pilot last month, shortly after the pilot was launched in August, to include ocean shipments and international mail which weren’t included in the original plan.
“Combined with the exponential growth of the online shopping market in the US over the past five years, CBP has seen a significant increase in small, low-value packages,” said the agency in a statement.
“Today, CBP processes more than 600 million express consignment and international mail shipments a year – approximately 1.8m a day. The unprecedented growth in volume of these low-value shipments requires creative solutions to interdict illicit and dangerous products to enter the US.”
Source: article by Phil Taylor, Securityindustry.com, 20 January 2020
Maersk and IBM have introduced their global blockchain solution TradeLens, with 94 organizations already participating. The companies announced their joint venture in January this year after collaborating on the concept since 2016.
Early adopters include more than 20 port and terminal operators across the globe, including PSA Singapore, International Container Terminal Services Inc, Patrick Terminals, Modern Terminals in Hong Kong, Port of Halifax, Port of Rotterdam, Port of Bilbao, PortConnect, PortBase and terminal operators Holt Logistics at the Port of Philadelphia. They join the global APM Terminals’ network in piloting the solution at over 230 marine gateways worldwide.
Pacific International Lines has joined Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd as global container carriers participating. Customs authorities in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and Peru are participating, along with customs brokers Ransa and Güler & Dinamik.
Participation among beneficial cargo owners has grown to include Torre Blanca / Camposol and Umit Bisiklet. Freight forwarders, transportation and logistics companies including Agility, CEVA Logistics, DAMCO, Kotahi, PLH Trucking Company, Ancotrans and WorldWide Alliance.
TradeLens uses IBM Blockchain technology built on open standards to establish a single shared view of a transaction without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality. Shippers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators, inland transportation and customs authorities can interact via real-time access to shipping data ad shipping documents, including IoT and sensor data ranging from temperature control to container weight.
Using blockchain smart contracts, TradeLens enables digital collaboration across the multiple parties involved in international trade. The trade document module, released under a beta program and called ClearWay, enables importers/exporters, customs brokers, trusted third parties such as Customs, other government agencies, and NGOs to collaborate in cross-organizational business processes and information exchanges, all backed by a secure, non-repudiable audit trail.
During a 12-month trial, Maersk and IBM worked with dozens of partners to identify opportunities to prevent delays caused by documentation errors and information delays. One example demonstrated how TradeLens can reduce the transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the U.S. by 40 percent, avoiding thousands of dollars in cost.
Through better visibility and more efficient means of communicating, some supply chain participants estimate they could reduce the steps taken to answer basic operational questions such as “where is my container” from 10 steps and five people to, with TradeLens, one step and one person.
More than 154 million shipping events have been captured on the platform, including data such as arrival times of vessels and container “gate-in,” and documents such as customs releases, commercial invoices and bills of lading. This data is growing at a rate of close to one million events per day.
TradeLens is expected to be fully commercially available by the end of this year.
This Friday, 20 April 2018, SARS Customs will implement its new Cargo, Conveyance and Goods Accounting solution – otherwise known as the Cargo Processing System (CPS). In recent years SARS has introduced several e-initiatives to bolster cargo reporting in support its electronic Customs Clearance Processing System (iCBS), introduced in August 2013.
Followers of SARS’ New Customs Acts Programme (NCAP) will recognise that the CPS forms part of one of the three core pillars of the new legislative programme, better known as Reporting of Conveyances and Goods (RCG). The other two pillars are, Registration, Licensing and Accreditation (RLA) and Declaration Processing (DPR). More about these in future articles. In order to expedite the implementation of the new Acts, SARS deemed it necessary to introduce elements of the new functionality via a transitional manner under the current Customs and Excise (1964) Act.
Proper revenue accounting and goods statistical reporting, can only be adequately achieved if Customs knows what goods ‘actually’ arrive, transit and exit it’s borders. Many countries, since the era of heightened security (post 9/11), have invested heavily in the re-engineering of policies and systems to address the threat of terrorism. This lead to a re-focus of resources and energies to develop risk management systems based on ‘advanced information’. SARS has invested significantly in automated systems in the last decade. Shortly, SARS it will also introduce a new automated risk engine with enhanced capabilities to include post clearance audit activities.
It should also not come as a surprise to anyone conversant with Customs practice, that international Customs standards such as the WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards, the RKC and the Data Model are prevalent in the new Customs legal dispensation and its operational business systems.
South Africa will now follow several of its trading partners with the introduction of ‘advance reporting of containerised cargo’ destined for South African sea ports. This reporting requires carriers and forwarders to submit ‘advance loading notices’ to SARS Customs at both master and house bill of lading levels, 24 hours prior to vessel departure.
The implementation of CPS is significant in terms of its scope. It comprises some 30 odd electronic cargo notices and reports across the sea, air, rail and road modalities. These reports form the ‘pipeline’ of information deemed necessary to ensure that the ‘chain of custody’ is visible and secure from point of departure to final destination. For the first time, South Africa will also require cargo reporting in the export domain.
It is no understatement that the CPS initiative is a challenge in particular to new supply chain entities who have not been required in the past to submit electronic reports. In order to meet these reporting requirements, a significant investment in systems development and training is required on the part of SARS and external trade participants. To this end, SARS intends to focus on ramping up compliance amongst all cargo reporters across all transport modalities. The first modality will be road, which is the most significantly developed and supported modality by trade since the inception of manifest reporting under the Customs Modernisation Programme. The remaining transport modalities will receive attention once road is stabilised.
Hong Kong-based CargoX raised $7 million through an initial coin offering to build its smart contract-based house bill of lading solution. CargoX, has designs on developing so-called smart contracts to transfer house bills of lading onto a blockchain solution it is building. House bills of lading are issues by non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOs).
The coins, also called tokens, can be used to pay for CargoX’s smart contract solutions, but those interested in the blockchain-backed bill of lading solution can also pay with traditional currencies.
“Our platform will support all the legacy payment options with fiat money, but as we are a startup based on blockchain technologies, we are working on implementing cryptocurrency payment as well,” said CargoX founder Stefan Kukman. “There will be various service levels supported, and there will be additional features and services provided to holders and users of our CXO utility tokens.”
The ICO serves two purposes in this application. It helps CargoX raise funds as opposed to seeking venture capital investment, but the coins can also be used to transact within the solution. So, the sale of the CXO tokens is ancillary to the product offering.
That’s different from another crypto-token liner shipping model that emerged in the second half of 2017 called 300Cubits. That company issued tokens, called TEUs, to underpin a solution that would penalize shippers and carriers for no-show or overbooking behavior.
CargoX, meanwhile, said it wants to be a neutral platform for global trade documentation and is starting with the bill of lading approach. The solution comprises an app, a document exchange protocol, and a governing body, which is currently being established.
“The next step is to demonstrate the viability of our platform with a test shipment,” Kukman said.
That pilot, scheduled for the second quarter of 2018, links a logistics company with its clients on a shipment from Asia to Europe.
“Technology companies often lack the shipping and logistics expertise necessary to break into this industry,” Kukman said. “On the other hand, logistics companies venturing into the tech field may be held back by their reliance on established, old-school business practices.”
To register, CargoX collects “know your customer” and NVO license information “to establish roles and permissions on the platform.”
“Once companies register, they will receive their public and private key for signing the Smart B/Ls. This can be done in the Smart B/L distributed application provided by CargoX, or with the help of the CargoX Smart B/L API (application programming interface) integrated into the company’s system.”
That integration can take a few hours or weeks, depending on the workflow of the company, CargoX said.
The ultimate goal of bringing bills of lading to the blockchain solution is to create a common, encrypted repository of data. The secondary benefit of that process would be the potential to eliminate bank-backed letters of credit for suppliers, as the smart contract would automatically trigger payment.
“The shipping industry currently wastes billions of dollars on spending related to letters of credit, which are used in global trade as a payment guarantees,” Kukman said.
In terms of how the blockchain-backed bill of lading would function in practice, Kukman said that data will be encrypted and stored in a decentralized storage application.
“These are much safer than centralized storage, as they use the same blockchain security mechanisms as the billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin currently in circulation,” he said. “Actual ownership (of the document) will be traded (sent) in the same way people send tokens today, from one wallet to another.”
The first full agricultural commodity transaction using a blockchain platform has been completed by Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), Shandong Bohi Industry, ING, Societe Generale and ABN Amro.
The trade included a full set of digitalized documents (sales contract, letter of credit, certificates) and automatic data-matching, thus avoiding task duplication and manual checks. Time spent on processing documents and data was reduced five-fold. The companies involved said that other benefits included the ability to monitor the operation’s progress in real time, data verification, reduced risk of fraud and a shorter cash cycle.
In the test, the Easy Trading Connect platform was used to execute a soybean shipment transaction from the U.S. to China. The transaction involved user participation on the blockchain-based platform by teams from Louis Dreyfus Company as the seller and Bohi as the buyer, with banks issuing and confirming the letter of credit. Russell Marine Group and Blue Water Shipping also participated in the process, issuing all required certificates. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided valuable insights on how to include phyto-sanitary certificates in the process.
The Easy Trading Connect platform was first validated with an oil cargo transaction in February 2017, with the subsequent launch in November 2017 of an energy consortium aiming to offer blockchain-based services to the energy sector. The same principle was then applied to develop a blockchain-based platform tailored to agricultural commodities trading.
ING, Societe Generale, ABN Amro and other major industry players such as LDC have a long-term ambition to improve security and operational efficiency in the commodity trading and finance sector through digitalization and standardization.
“One thing is clear: the digital revolution is transforming the commodities sector,” said Gonzalo Ramírez Martiarena, Chief Executive Officer of LDC. “Distributed ledger technologies have been evolving rapidly, bringing more efficiency and security to our transactions, and immense expected benefits for our customers and everyone along the supply chain as a result. The next step is to harness the potential for further development through the adoption of common standards, and welcome a truly new era of digital trade flow management on a global level.”
Source: Maritime Executive, 3 January 2018 (Image credit: David Hundley (LDC)
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