Agents’ should be spec­i­fied

Cargo Talk - - Editorial - San­Jeet

The on­go­ing IATA e-freight ex­er­cises have two sides. On the one hand, IATA has huge pro­jec­tion about the ben­e­fits of e-freight prac­tices and on the other hand, there are some gray ar­eas about tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits for the freight for­warders/air cargo agents. Ac­cord­ing to IATA, e-freight al­lows to lower costs by elim­i­nat­ing pa­per han­dling and pro­cess­ing costs; speed-up ser­vices by re­duc­ing cy­cle time of an av­er­age of 24 hours; im­prove re­li­a­bil­ity and ac­cu­racy through one­time elec­tronic data en­try at a point of ori­gin; gain vis­i­bil­ity as elec­tronic doc­u­men­ta­tions al­low for on­line track and trace func­tion­al­ity. It also fa­cil­i­tates Ad­vance Elec­tronic In­for­ma­tion (AEI) re­quire­ments for se­cu­rity pur­pose. Mean­while, the air cargo in­dus­try in In­dia is gear­ing up to im­ple­ment e-freight. Some air­lines have al­ready de­cided to ex­er­cise e-freight prac­tices. Freight for­warders com­mu­nity too, has cre­ated a tech­nol­ogy plat­form called UP­LIFT in this re­gard. The Government of In­dia has signed the ICAO pro­to­col MC99. In­dia Cus­toms has an e-com­merce plat­form called ICEGATE, which al­lows elec­tronic fil­ing of im­port & ex­port doc­u­ments, though it still re­quires the submission of pa­per Cus­toms Dec­la­ra­tions and pa­per Sup­port Doc­u­ments! Nev­er­the­less, In­dian freight for­warders are in quandary re­gard­ing the ac­tual ben­e­fits. Since (as many agents feel) e-freight is not a stan­dalone op­tion and un­less all stake­hold­ers of the sup­ply chain are linked by a com­mon user fa­cil­ity, it would be dif­fi­cult for them to har­ness ben­e­fits. It should also be men­tioned that in In­dia, in spite of 15 years of cus­toms EDI ini­tia­tives, the en­tire process is still in a rudi­men­tary stage and de­pended on pa­per dec­la­ra­tions. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tions have also not been brought down. There has to be for­warders-re­lated ben­e­fits to read­ily em­brace e-freight. De­vel­op­ing soft­ware and com­ply­ing with e-freight would mean ex­tra ex­penses for the for­warders. IATA should also think se­ri­ously, why e-freight has still not picked up in In­dia and its pen­e­tra­tion is even less than two per cent of in­ter­na­tional freight world­wide. Only then the in­dus­try can ex­pect 100 per cent eAWB im­ple­men­ta­tion by 2015.

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