With organisations facing rising fuel costs, inflation, and lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war, there is greater urgency to improve efficiencies in cross-border supply chains to keep global trade flows running smoothly.
A vital solution is the electronic customs integration, which transforms a traditional paper-based customs system into a digital format that offers more convenience and connectivity – helping to increase trade and reduce the cost of doing business.
Here are four key takeaways from panellists at a discussion on global supply chain management, co-organised by global logistics provider GEODIS and global trade management platform company, Global eTrade Services (GeTS), a wholly owned subsidiary of CrimsonLogic. Moderated by Professor Mark Goh, an academic from the department of analytics and operations at NUS Business School, the industry experts discussed the benefits and challenges of implementing electronic customs solutions in today’s disruptive landscape.
1. Greater supply chain visibility
As freight moves across borders, real-time visibility in logistics operations, including clearing customs, is now a must-have.
“Supply chain visibility is not something nice to have or good to have – it is a basic essential for major MNCs and global corporations to operate and function efficiently,” said Chang Kian Chuan, regional customs brokerage director at GEODIS.
It is even more crucial with the pandemic and geopolitical tensions giving rise to many new regulatory controls that complicates the customs process, explained Dr Chang, whose company is partnering GeTS to promote electronic customs integration across the Asia Pacific region.
Real-time visibility will not only smoothen trade flows, but also ensures compliance in the entire supply chain, he noted.
2. Enhanced efficiencies
While the cost of technology may often be the biggest barrier to adopting digital solutions, it could be more costly not doing so – especially when the hidden costs of inefficient supply chains stack up.
When businesses embrace digitalisation to improve their supply chain processes, this lowers inventory, production, transportation, procurement, investment, and other associated costs.
“I think the key selling point (of electronics customs clearance) for a lot of manufacturing companies or shippers is the reduction in inventory in the supply chain,” explained Wong Kwang Yong, a senior director of logistics at global semiconductor manufacturing firm, Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific.
This is where software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions provide the right balance, noted Mike Yap, vice-president of trade compliance (business) at CrimsonLogic and GeTS. These solutions offer pay-per-use pricing along with the flexibility of allowing employees to work remotely in the cloud – a boon for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Mr Yap also observed how the global supply chain disruptions over the last two years have changed the priorities of customers using its trade platform – moving from the basics of predictability and on-time delivery to how to minimise the impact of supply chain disruption.
3. Paperless, end-to-end compliance
As global trade is increasingly dependent on complex international logistics networks, semiconductor firms like Infineon Technologies can be hit hard by any disruption in the supply chain.
Electronic customs integration becomes a lifesaver with full end-to-end support across all stakeholders: “It doesn't matter if our customers are using a different partner at the destination country – if the partners can still come together and work together… electronic means lesser manpower, more efficiency, faster customs clearance,” shared Mr Wong.
For this new process to truly work, what the industry needs is a complete digital transformation across the entire supply chain, observed Mr Yap who is optimistic that more organisations will come on board.
“As more countries adopt the Authorized Economic Operator programme, and with all the free trade agreements coming in now, many countries see the importance of it,” he added.
4. Forging uncommon partnerships
Challenging times call for collaborative solutions. Mr Wong is thankful for the support from his supply chain partners through the pandemic to move his semiconductors – an essential item which is currently in a global shortage.
“One of the things that always comes to my mind is uncommon times call for uncommon partnerships. What we have seen over the last two years – with partners like GeTS and GEODIS – is essentially the coming together of the whole logistic industry to try to get the supply chain running,” he shared.
The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships, which is evident in the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines within an accelerated timeframe, raised Mr Yap.
“Through this whole pandemic, you see the importance of both business and government collaboration,” he said, adding that he hopes such close working relationships and integration of information flows will be extended to cross-border trade as well.
“What I've seen in this whole pandemic is that the whole digitalisation tempo has gone up and that companies have more people jumping onto the bandwagon,” he said.
As more countries and companies adopt electronic customs integration, the global supply chain system looks set to become smoother, more efficient, and more resilient in the face of future disruptions.
Looking for a simple and fuss-free way to integrate your electronic customs processes for smooth cross-border trade? Get in touch with us today to discover how our solutions can help automate, expedite, and ensure compliance with the dynamic regulatory landscape.