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The world’s first blockchain-based platform for electronic certificates of origin (eCOs) was unveiled in Singapore on Tuesday.

The platform is the result of a partnership between the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce  (SICC) and Singapore-based vCargo Cloud. As the first chamber in the world to implement blockchain-based eCOs, SICC seeks to provide its members and trade-related agencies, including trade financing and insurance firms, with a system that offers higher security, efficiency and flexibility. The platform aims to vastly improve transparency, security and efficiency in authenticating trade documents. It permits instant verification of eCOs and runs on a private blockchain network that prevents fraud, alterations and third-party interference.

SICC says the platform represents a quantum leap in processing trade-related documents by hosting information of trade transactions on a tamper-proof distributed ledger system, which can be authenticated and accessed by various stakeholders of the platform. The platform uses QR codes, allowing eCOs to be scanned using smart phones and then printed. The number of allowable prints is restricted to prevent unauthorized duplicates. This improves efficiency and minimizes the costs of verifying COs, removing a major impediment in the process and a frequent cause of high insurance or trade finance costs.

vCargo Cloud intends to leverage on the Singapore launch to promote the platform globally, beginning with Asian countries that are substantive manufacturing exporters such as Japan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, using a pay-per-use model.

The launch of the blockchain-based eCO platform comes amidst the Singapore Government’s call for a Self-Certification regime through the ASEAN Single Window, which aims to expedite freight clearance and reduce manual paperwork across all 10 member countries.

eCo

Source: Maritime Executive, original article published 8 May 2018.

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Singapore on Monday crushed and burnt almost eight tonnes of ivory confiscated over two years to try to deter smugglers as activists called for tighter enforcement.

Over 2,700 elephant tusks weighing 7.9 tonnes were fed into an industrial rock crusher before incineration.

It was the fist time seized ivory had been destroyed in Singapore, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said in a statement. Previous hauls were returned to the originating country, donated to museums or kept for education.

The tusks, estimated to be worth Sg$13 million ($9.6 million), were seized on four separate occasions between January 2014 and December 2015. In May 2015 some 2,000 tusks were found hidden in a shipment of tea leaves from Kenya.

“The public destruction of ivory sends a strong message that Singapore condemns illegal wildlife trade. By crushing the ivory, we ensure it does not re-enter the ivory market,” said Desmond Lee, a senior minister of state in the interior and national development ministry.

Singapore can do more to enforce strict anti-trafficking laws, said WWF-Singapore communications director Kim Stengert.

“There are illegal wildlife shipments caught in other ports after they came through Singapore. So we definitely need to step up efforts to enforce the strict rules,” he said.

The ivory trade has been banned since 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, of which Singapore is a signatory. Source: AFP News

TArtist's Illustration -DEME Grouphe Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has signed a milestone contract for the construction of the first phase of a new $1.82 billion mega port in Singapore.

The contract was awarded to a joint venture between the Dredging International Asia Pacific Ltd., a subsidiary of Belgium’s DEME Group, and South Korea’s Daelim.

The project, formally known as the Tuas Terminal Phase 1 Reclamation, Wharf Construction and Dredging Project, entails the construction of a new port terminal with 20 deep-water berths having a total capacity of 20 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per annum. The Joint Venture will be responsible for the construction of an 8.6-kilometer quay wall and its foundation, the dredging of the fairway and basins, as well as the reclamation of 294 hectares of new land.

This major project is expected to complete within six years, and has been awarded to the Joint Venture for a Contract value of SGD 2.42 billion (or approximately US $1.82 billion).

Beginning in 2030, the Government of Singapore will start to consolidate its container port facilities at Tuas. New technology will be introduced at the greenfield site to create a hypermodern, innovative and largely automated logistics hub. The consolidation will also free up existing port land near the city centre for future urban redevelopment.

The Tuas Terminal Project is anticipated to ensure that Singapore’s leading global hub port continues to have sufficient capacity in the long term to meet industry demand.

Singapore ranks as the world’s second busiest container port handling 33.9 million 20-foot containers in 2014, according to the MPA. The Port of Shanghai ranks as number 1 with 35.2 million TEU in 2014. Source: Gcaptain.com

Port of Antwerp [Picture -  Porttechnology.com]

Port of Antwerp [Picture – Porttechnology.com]

Port of Antwerp has issued its 2013 Annual Report which contains an interesting ranking of the largest ports worldwide.

According to the Port of Antwerp, throughput figures of different ports cannot be compared as ports do not use uniform definitions: some ports (most importantly Singapore) apparently use freight tons (metric tons or volume tons, whichever is higher).

According to Antwerp’s estimates, Singapore handles slightly more than 400m tons, instead of the 560m tons reported by the Maritime and Ports Authority of Singapore. However, their ‘correction factor’ may not be accurate.

Port of Antwerp’s definition of throughput is focused on ‘international throughput’. That is a debatable definition, as it leads to the exclusion of domestic traffic by seagoing vessels. For this reason, and partly because the Chinese ports apparently also include barge traffic in total volumes, the Chinese ports of Shanghai and Ningbo are substantially smaller in Antwerp’s figures than in their own statements.

So, surprisingly, the largest port of the world according to Antwerp’s annual report is Rotterdam! This goes to show that their effort is not intended as a marketing effort to favour Antwerp. If that was the case, they could have taken the port area to identify the largest port. This indicator puts Antwerp firmly on top as Europe’s largest port, with about 13,000 hectares, compared with Rotterdam’s more than 10,000 hectares. But clearly, the port area is an indicator of limited value, both due to differences in the definitions and for its limited relevance.

The Antwerp ranking does demonstrate the variety of definitions used in measuring port throughtput. For instance, in Europe ports throughput numbers do not fully match with Eurostat’s throughput data. This variety of definitions does not only apply to throughput, but also for other indicators such as modal split and employment in ports. That hampers international comparisons, benchmarking as well as academic research.

An authorative effort to create global standards would be good news for the port industry. Source: Porttechnology.com

wco news 2013The latest edition of WCO News reflects on the Secretary General’s thoughts on what the WCO has done, what it will be doing, and what will impact on its work in the coming months. The WCO will actively focus its energies on it’s four strategic packages concentrating on revenue, compliance and enforcement, economic competitiveness and organizational development. Together, these packages support the adoption and application of modern Customs practices and raise awareness on the vital role of Customs in international trade.

Featured articles include –

  • From borders to boundless: the digital dilemma in Customs – it discusses two questions – How does an industry traditionally focused on physical borders remake itself for digital commerce, which inherently circumvents such borders? and, Why must Customs agencies transform to address the rise in digital goods and services?
  • Intercepting next generation threats

    For those responsible for the security of our borders, transit networks, VIPs and high-profile sites, the threat posed by more creative adversaries is compounded by the increasing frustrations of passengers and visitors, when subjected to existing security checks. The article discusses a range of ingenuity which technology nowadays provides to these adversaries, and the elements of new Terahertz imaging equipment to assist border agencies in the combat thereof.

  • Beyond the Single 

    Window (SW) – In the 20-plus years since they first opened in Singapore and Sweden, SWs have remained a central focus of border clearance strategies, even though the majority of Customs administrations have not implemented them. Although design plans vary considerably, most SW systems support an electronic data exchange model which allows for (i) Single submission of data and information; (ii) Single and synchronous processing; and (iii) Single decision-making for release and clearance. This article considers 4 best practices which governments should consider when implementing Single Window programs.

The publication also includes country case study’s on Single Window featuring Nigeria and New Zealand, Sri Lanka Customs 20 years of dedication towards conservation, a feature on Argentine Customs and many other interesting articles. To access the publication – click here! Source: WCO

Nigeria Trade Hub 2The WCO Single Window Experts Accreditation Workshop took place on 23rd – 27th September, 2013 at Customs Border Control Training Centre (CBCTC), Seoul, Korea. The objectives of the workshop included:

  • Promoting the work of Single Window
  • Developing expertise meant for executive management
  • Developing different expertise in other technical areas of Single Window.

Developing this expertise brought about the WCO Data Model and SW accreditation Workshop as there are several areas where experts can emerge, including areas of Business processes, Legal, Data Model etc. The past efforts in capacity building served as a guide to developing the program for the workshop. The expectation included shaping assistance and building capacity in the areas of Single Window.

The participants included representatives from Nigeria, Mauritius, Chile, Singapore, Tanzania, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Russia Federation, Saudi Arabia and Korea. Three out of the ten participants (Nigeria, Singapore, Mauritius) were accredited Co-Facilitator Status for the World Customs Organization at the end of the workshop. This demonstrates that Nigeria is certainly moving in the right direction and aligning to International Standards. Source: Nigeria Trade Hub

5_triple-eThe world’s largest cargo ship is leaving its shipyard this week to prepare for its July 15 maiden voyage, but much of its cargo space will be under-utilized as many ports don’t have the ability unload the 20-story-high container stacks the vessel can lug between Asia and Europe.

The ship, a $185-million, 1,300-foot long behemoth with a capacity of 18,000 containers, is a gamble for the vessel’s owner, Danish group A.P. Møller-Maersk A/S. Freight, which has been so battered by the recent global economic downturn that at one point it had hundreds of cargo ships sitting idle in Singapore. The ship is so big, it’s essentially leap-frogged over many ports’ ability to off-load it when it’s at full capacity.

“We will operate it as a smaller ship for the first few months while ports upgrade their cranes,” Lars Jensen, head of Maersk Line’s Asia-Europe operations, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The problem is that ports lack gantries — those giant square-shaped cranes that slide over loaded cargo ships and pick up or drop off loaded containers — that can accommodate a fully loaded Triple E. So before Maersk can utilize the ship’s full capacity at major ports, many of those ports have to invest in upgrading, a process that could take years.

Dow Jones says 16 ports on the ship’s route are certified to handle it, but “several” lack the adequate crane ability to handle it when it’s fully loaded. So for now, the ship will have to haul less, which eats into the company’s potential profit. It will embark on its first journey on July 15 from Busan, South Korea, to Europe, after a stop at Singapore. Source: Seanews.com and International Business Times

 

Director-General of Singapore Customs Fong Yong Kian and Vice Minister of the General Administration of China Customs Sun Yibiao (both seated), signed the China-Singapore MRA at the WCO Council Sessions in June 2012. The signing was witnessed by Chairperson of the WCO Council and Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners of Ireland, Josephine Feehily and WCO Secretary-General   Kunio Mikuriya.

Director-General of Singapore Customs Fong Yong Kian and Vice Minister of the General Administration of China Customs Sun Yibiao (both seated), signed the China-Singapore MRA at the WCO Council Sessions in June 2012. The signing was witnessed by Chairperson of the WCO Council and Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners of Ireland, Josephine Feehily and WCO Secretary-General Kunio Mikuriya.

General Administration of Customs of Singapore has announced that the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), signed with Customs of the People’s Republic of China went into effect on March 15, 2013.  Following the effective date, both Singapore’s STP-Plus companies and China’s Class AA accredited companies will be recognized as Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) of the respective countries.

This recognition as AEOs allows Customs from both countries to grant clearance facilitation for accredited AEOs such as lower examination rates, priority inspections, and priority handling of customs clearance documents at each country’s port.  Included in the announcement were specific instructions for how importers in both Singapore and China should fill out customs forms when receiving exported goods from one of their respective AEOs.

For goods exported directly to Singapore from a Chinese Class AA company, the Chinese exporter would need to provide the Singapore importer with the 10-digit Customs Registration Code to place on their import declarations to Singapore along with inputting the “AEO code” into the portal for mutual recognition purposes and benefits of AEO.  The AEO code is comprised of “AEO”, “CN” and the 10-digit Customs Registration Code.

For goods exported to China from a Singapore STP-Plus company, the Chinese importer must fill in the “AEO code” of the Singapore’s exporter in the “remark column” in their import declarations to receive mutual recognition benefits.  The format for the AEO code is as follows:  “AEO (written in English half-width characters and capital letters)” plus “<” plus “SG” plus “12-digit AEO code” plus “>”.  For instance, if the AEO code of one Singapore STP-Plus company is AEOSG123456789012, then the remark column filled in by the Chinese importer would read as “AEO”.

The MRA signed between China and Singapore is but one example of several security programs in different countries making it easier for trusted traders to move goods through the supply chain. Other countries that also participate in MRAs include:

  • US Customs & Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) which has MRAs in place with Canada’s Partners in Protection (PIP), New Zealand’s Secure Export Scheme Program (SES), Jordan’s Golden List Program (GLP), Japan’s Authorized Economic Operator Program (AEO), Korea’s AEO, and the European Union’s ( EU) AEO
  • European Union (EU) AEO which has MRAs in place with Canada’s PIP, Japan’s AEO, Australia’s AEO, New Zealand’s SES, and US C-TPAT
  • Japan Customs has MRAs in place with New Zealand’s SES, EU’s AEO, Canada’s PIP, Korea’s AEO, and Singapore’s STP-Plus
  • Singapore Customs has signed MRAs in place with Canada’s PIP, Korea’s AEO, Japan’s AEO, and China’s Class AA

Part of participating in any security program is the ability to assess and manage risk across the supply chain.  This includes soliciting and analysing information received from every partner within the supply chain to corrective actions and best practices.  While are security programs are still voluntary in nature, companies that take advantage of them are reaping benefits such as faster customs clearance and less inspections. Source: Integration Point

Singapore is relocating its transshipment port operations to Tuas in 10 years, a move that will add 65 million TEU in annual capacity, nearly doubling today’s capacity at local PSA terminals, announced Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew. Consolidating transshipment operations at Tuas will bolster efficiency, economies of scale, eliminate inter-terminal transfers and result in cost savings and increased productivity.

Located close to the island’s industrial centre, Tuas is a new port development that can handle up to 65 million TEU annually, nearly double Singapore’s present capacity at PSA terminals. The first phase of Tuas is scheduled to open in 10 years, ahead of the 2027 expiration of the leases of Singapore city terminals at Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, and Pulau Brani, noted Dredging Today.

The recently completed Terminals 1 and 2 of Pasir Panjang will be merged in Tuas as well. But PSA Singapore will proceed with Phases 3 and 4, which will cover 250 hectares and add 15 new berths with a six kilometre quay.

The Pasir Panjang expansion, which is estimated to cost about US$3.5 billion, will increase PSA Singapore’s maximum draft from 16 to 18 metres to accommodate fully laden 18,000 TEUers now on order. By 2020, both phases will add an annual capacity of 15 million TEU, bringing the port total to 50 million TEU, but is still less than the additional Tuas planned capacity, which alone is estimated to handle 15 million TEU on completion. Source: www.seanews.com

East Asian economies have recorded marked improvements in their ability to enable trade, while traditional frontrunners Singapore and Hong Kong retain a clear lead at the top of the global rankings, according to the Global Enabling Trade Report 2012, released today by the World Economic Forum.

The report, which is published every two years, also confirms strong showings for Europe’s major economies, with Finland and the United Kingdom both advancing six places to 6th and 11th, respectively, and Germany and France remaining stable at 13th and 20. Other large economies fare less well: the US continues its decline to 23rd, as does China (56th) and India (100th). Among emerging economies, Turkey (62nd) and Mexico (65th) remain stable while Chile (14th), Saudi Arabia (27th) and South Africa (63rd) climb in the ranking. ASEAN members Thailand (57th), Indonesia (58th) and the Philippines (72nd) also improve. Perhaps the proponents of OSBPs and a BMA in South Africa have not read this or have deeper insight into the matter.

As well as ranking nations’ trade openness, the report finds that traditional notions of trade are increasingly outdated as global value chains require new measurements, policies and cooperation. The report also finds that security, quality and trade can be mutually reinforcing through supply chain integrity efforts, but a knowledge gap in identifying buyers remains an important barrier. The biennial report, covering 132 economies worldwide, measures the abilities of economies to enable trade and highlights areas where improvements are most needed. A widely used reference, it helps countries integrate global value chains and companies with their investment decisions.

At the core of the report is the Enabling Trade Index, which measures institutions, policies and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to destination. It breaks the enablers into four issue areas: market access, border administration, transport and communications infrastructure, and business environment. The Index uses a combination of data from publicly available sources, as well as the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum with its network of partner research institutes and business organizations in the countries included in the report. The 2012 results demonstrate that the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement has facilitated trade since its entry into force in 2010. This year, the report also directly captures the most important obstacles to exporting and importing in each country, and notes the strong links between import and export success. Source: AllAfrica.com / WEF