WCO launches COVID-19 Trade Facilitation Repository

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, characterized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic on 11 March 2020, countries around the world have been adopting a series of trade and border protection measures to try to contain the spread of the disease across borders. Such measures have had immediate and severe impacts on economic activities and caused major disruptions in supply chains. Given that trade facilitation is a key policy tool that can help countries mitigate some of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WCO has partnered with the WTO, UNCTAD, the CSSO, the GATF, IATA and ITC to develop a COVID-19 Trade Facilitation Repository in which all these actions are consolidated.

The repository acts as a platform that consolidates the initiatives on trade facilitation adopted by organizations and stakeholders, seeking to provide access to these resources in a unique and user-friendly database. It contains a useful listing of all such initiatives broken down by organization, type of measure and subject matter. As the situation evolves and further actions are taken, the platform will be expanded to include other key actors working in the area of trade facilitation.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented sanitary and economic effects, the WCO and other international organizations, NGOs, business associations and other representative entities have redeployed resources to develop new instruments, tools and guidance materials on trade facilitation measures. These documents can be a useful source of information for countries to learn from each other, share best practices and experiences and provide inspiration to design targeted policy responses. However, these resources were scattered throughout a multitude of platforms. This initiative will assist in ensuring that the seamless flow of safe cross-border trade continues, especially with regard to essential goods which are crucial for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID19 Trade Facilitation Repository can be accessed via the following link and will be updated regularly to reflect new guidance material developed.

The WCO thanks its partners, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Commonwealth Small States Office (CSSO) in Geneva, the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (GATF), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) for this initiative and reiterates its commitment to assist its Members in securing, protecting and facilitating legitimate global trade.

Source: World Customs Organisation, 9 May 2020

COVID-19 Reference page for Customs and Trade users

A dedicated COVID-19 page has been added to this blog to provide Customs and Trade users a reference and insight into a variety of international and South African weblinks and documents concerning guidelines under COVID-19. This page will be updated regularly to include additional links and updates to any relevant document or website referenced. Please bookmark this page to be kept abreast of updates.

UK Forwarders object to New Air Cargo Surcharge

awb_welcomeIt is becoming more and more evident that every ‘automation’ project entails ‘more costs’. The benefits appear to lie in the ‘comfort’ of doing stuff at your keyboard. Much vaunted ‘cost-savings’ are a myth as technology encroaches every facet of global trading. The following is a fine example.

The trade association for UK freight forwarders and logistics service providers is encouraging its members to object to a Paper Air Waybill (AWB) Surcharge that airlines are planning for export AWBs that are not filed electronically. Robert Keen, director general of the British International Freight Association (Bifa), commented: “Bifa supports e-Commerce and e-Air Waybill implementation in the air cargo supply chain. However, we believe that implementation should create value for forwarders and airlines alike, and airlines need to recognise the costs that the originator of the information incurs to enter and transmit data.”

Keen continued: “Through our international body Fiata, Bifa will be voicing our objection to carriers that seek to apply yet another surcharge, and create yet another revenue stream, under the guise of supporting IATA’s – the airline industry body’s – e-Freight initiative, which aims to implement e-Freight worldwide.” Bifa is asking its members to join in the stand against the introduction of this surcharge by completing an online survey, which can be found here: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1782849/Paper-AWB-Surcharge-Survey

The air freight sector missed IATA’s target last year of achieving 20% e-air waybill penetration “on feasible lanes”, achieving just 12%. The target for 2014 has been revised downwards to 22%, with a target for 45% e-AWB penetration by the end of 2015 and 80% by the end of 2016. IATA expects to see an acceleration of penetration levels this year, in part because of the introduction last year of the e-AWB Multilateral Agreement, to which around 70 airlines and more than 100 freight forwarders have now signed up.

But while there is increasing momentum among airlines and air cargo handlers, many forwarders remain unconvinced of the benefits. Chuck Zhao, process engineer project manager at US air cargo handler Consolidated Aviation Services (CAS), observes that only around 6% shipments out of the US are e-freight, largely because “those who cut the paper air waybills simply do not see the benefits of going paperless”.

Michael White, assistant director of cargo facilitation, security and standards for US air freight association Cargo Network Services (CNS) and regional manager of cargo for IATA, observed that there was a need for effective communication routes for the forwarders, especially small and medium-sized ones, to transmit their FWB & FHL messages – preferably a community system rather than via multiple airline portals. He said there was currently no community system in the US, but there were signs that companies are looking at that capability. Source: Lloydsloadinglist.com

Global platform for young freight forwarder

SAAFFAs the winner of the Region Africa Middle East phase of the Young Freight Forwarder of the Year competition, Fortunate Mboweni of Bidvest Panalpina Logistics is now off to compete on a global platform.

Fortunate’s prize is to attend and participate in the FIATA World Congress in Istanbul in October this year. At this Congress Fortunate and the three other regional winners representing the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe will compete to become the global winner.

The global winner will receive a total of five weeks training in New York and London, as well as at one of the IATA major centres, with all expenses paid by competition sponsors, the Transit Trade Club and International Air Transport Association. The competition was developed to encourage training in the freight forwarding industry and to further develop the professionalism of young people.

Winners were chosen from dissertations on how they handle all aspects of the international movement of goods that are not the usual run of the mill cargo. Fortunate’s dissertation was called ‘Multimodal transport operations in practice: radio actives and abnormals from and to South Africa.’

Fortunate is a channel controller at BPL and she is currently studying for the Generic Management NQF level 5 qualification. Source: http://www.transportworldafrica.com

eAWB – Biggest achievement in standard-setting in air freight in 20 years

freightStandardization of the format for the e-AWB is expected to accelerate the industry’s move toward paperless transportation. Before this, Leger says, carriers were confronted with signing hundreds or even thousands of separate bilateral agreements with individual forwarders. He went on to describe e-AWB “the biggest achievement in standard-setting in air freight in 20 years.”

Following a year-long development process culminating in three months of trials that involved 15 carriers and eight forwarders, the IATA/FIATA Consultative Council (IFCC) endorsed the multilateral e-AWB agreement in February with some minor amendments. IATA formally adopted the agreement as its new Resolution 672 at the 35th Cargo Services Conference (CSC/35) in Doha, immediately ahead of the World Cargo Symposium. Click Here! to view the new Resolution.

The agreement was this week filed with governments, from whom IATA is seeking expedited approval in 30 days. “We hope to go live before mid-year,” Leger says. “We see e-Freight as essential for the future competitiveness of air cargo, and the e-AWB is the cornerstone of e-Freight. Agreeing the multilateral e-AWB is a game changer, and should go a long way toward reaching our target of the 20 percent e-AWB adoption rate we have set as our target for 2013.”

While early adopters in the airline community, including Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air and Singapore Airlines, overcame the logistical obstacles, they commented that having to draft separate bilaterals with forwarders would prevent wider implementation and delay the e-Freight objective.

“The standard bilateral that we initially developed, which allowed forwarders to make their own amendments, still left the industry facing extra costs but rapidly proved the concept,” Leger says. “Cathay adopted it in 2011 and then, in the middle of last year, we started work on the multilateral agreement.

“There were long discussions between carriers and forwarders as we tried to come up with an acceptable formula. This did not concern technical or operational aspects, but was more to do with what the governing law should be. Each nationality wanted to follow its own jurisdiction and consensus was necessary.”

As soon as trials began in October, Leger says the participants could see the value of the multilateral agreement. IATA hopes it will acts as the springboard for its ultimate target of 100 percent conversion to e-AWB by 2015. Source: Air Cargo World News