Blockchain seems to have become a prolific “enabler” of businesses, particularly in the shipping and freight and trade industry..
Whether in its use by Banks and Shippers to create Trade Finance documents; or creating and transmitting smart bills of lading; or setting up a blockchain-based marketplace app for trading in coffee; or making documentation easy for ports; or ensuring prompt delivery of mandarins for Chinese New Year; Blockchain is making its presence felt quite rapidly in our industry..
Many shipping lines, ports, financial institutions and other private entities are using Blockchain and testing it in many different ways through many pilot projects..
Saudi Customs became the latest entity to successfully test drive its first shipment powered by blockchain technology..
Saudi Customs teamed up with the TradeLens platform for this shipment which was loaded from Dammam port in Saudi Arabia to the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands..
The commercial invoice and packing list for the shipment were uploaded by the customer to the TradeLens platform in a structured format.. The export customs broker used the data in these documents to submit export declaration to Saudi customs., Saudi Customs accessed this information to register the export clearance..
The container was loaded onboard the Maersk Sebarok from Dammam to Rotterdam via Tangier.. The Dutch Port Community System Portbase provided the Dutch customs with release messages and gate-out information directly via the TradeLens platform..
The container was subsequently transported by truck to its final destination in Belgium..
The shipment was monitored right through, using the TradeLens platform, for any key events relating to the shipment..
Using this blockchain-backed structured documentation, both the export and import customs authorities and the cargo owners were able to analyse the data from the shipment’s documents via the platform..
The data and documents were handled by all parties to the shipment on a national single window, FASAH which is Saudi Arabia’s national platform which connects all government and private entities involved in cross border trade..
FASAH is integrated with TradeLens for selected services to ensure immutability, traceability, reduced reconciliation, auditability, and compliance..
“The pilot comes in line with our strategy that aims to facilitate trade and enhance security levels, while working to establish the kingdom as one of the world’s premier logistics hubs” said H.E Mr. Ahmed Alhakbani, Governor of Saudi Customs..
“To establish the Kingdom as one of the world’s premier logistics hub we needed to create a paradigm shift in the way we handle our shipping processes and explore futuristic approaches with our peer-to-peer business ecosystem worldwide.
We hope our pilot program will stand the test of time to include other ports as well, and not just the route of exporting, but importing also.
We chose to embark on this tech journey knowing that change is uncomfortable, but it is inevitable to be a leading global player,” added H.E Mr. Ahmed Al-Hakbani, Governor of Saudi Customs.
For its part, Mohammad Shihab, managing director of Maersk Saudi Arabia said “TradeLens offers an opportunity of collaboration and commitment among all stakeholders by building trust through a model that benefits all parties.
We are excited for Saudi Customs to pioneer the use of the platform and shape the transformation of the business processes in the region.”
As per Saudi Customs, the launch is part of ongoing trials and forms part of the Authority’s commitment to achieving the ambitious goals set out in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which is aimed at diversifying the Kingdom’s economy, attracting international investments, and driving overall growth through the adoption and implementation of ground-breaking technologies and innovative practices..
The TradeLens platform was jointly developed by Maersk and IBM as an open and neutral industry platform underpinned by blockchain technology and supported by major players across the global shipping industry..
The platform promotes the efficient, transparent and secure exchange of information in order to foster greater collaboration and trust across the global supply chain..