The future beckons
It was an ideal opportunity for the international freight forwarding community to get to know all about Indian freight forwarding; the various initiatives introduced by the government to create a business friendly environment
It was branded as ‘The Future Starts Here.’ FIATA World Congress was held for the first time in India.
A V Vijaykumar, Chairman FFFAI in his preamble speech said that this platform was an opportunity to many nations to share common goals to provide efficient logistic service. The cross border facilitation measures were indications of unity in diversity. Samir Shah, Mentor FIATA World Congress, said if they were to be a global player, there was a need to adopt to the changes continually taking place in the logistics world.
S Ramesh, Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and
Customs, said that international logistics is inextricably linked to domestic logistics. He emphasized that the Government of India was intent on improving trade. He said that the thrust was on enhancing the ease of doing business and on improving cross border trade. Single window interface called SWIFT, has been developed for facilitating trade, combining the requirement of Customs and other government agencies under a single
Sisir Pradhan declaration. The role of customs was not just limited to Customs per se, but extended to all aspects of cross border trade. And they were seeking deeper engagement with all logistics providers.
For the benefit of foreign logistics operators Ramesh informed that the Indian customs had a separate category of AEO exclusively for logistic operators called AEO Logistic Operators. India has ratified the WTO agreement. The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is the WTOS first multinational agreement which attains to simplify procedures in cross border movement of goods. More than
70 per cent of the agreements, the government of India has classified as category A, meaning the government’s readiness to implement the rules were already in progress.
Ragini Yechury, Founder Chairperson, Women in Logistics and Transport (WILAT) & Member of The Executive Committee, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), maintained gender diversity in the workforce not only fostered collaboration, understanding and tolerance but also boosted competitiveness, productivity and CSR. However currently women accounted only 15 per cent of directorial positions.
Thomas Sin, Chairman of Advisory Body Vocational Training (ABVT) spoke on the importance for the personnel of logistics industry to keep up with the technology that was making deep inroads in the sector.
The introduction of Blockchain, e-commerce, e-freight 3D printing,
AI, robotics etc was dramatically changing the logistics sector. De Bliecks, Deputy Director - Trade Facilitation, WCO, firmly believes that his organisation is committed to improving cross border trade by developing international standards in pursuit of unification, standardisation, and harmonisation of Customs and border clearance processes by providing best technical support. They had been looking into the future of Custom’s role and assisting various organisations and other relevant border agencies and stakeholder in order to be ahead of the curve as international supply chain evolves.
Arnaud Le Hors - Senior Technical Staff Member, Web & Blockchain Open Technologies - IBM sought to dispel the misconceptions surrounding Blockchain. He said that maintaining a ledger was an indispensable requirement in business. In business transactions, the various people involved maintain separate ledgers. Everybody updates their own version of the transaction. This brings about duplication and inefficiency into the system. A Blockchain, however avoids these shortcomings ie by having a common ledger for all the stakeholders in the business where any transaction made, is visible to all. It is a common shared digital ledger shared among various entities. There is synchronisation in the transactions owing to peer to peer networking.
Related to Blockchain was a very interesting talk on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Susan Malaika, Senior Technical Staff Member,
Open Tech for Data and Artificial Intelligence, IBM, elucidated on this esoteric subject. AI is a set of tools which enable one to interpret digital data, analyse the past, predict the future and take action. Every-time we click or swipe, data is stored about our actions somewhere. This was how big data started developing. Though big data is an old concept, AI became relevant when big data became a reality. Huge investments were being made in AI. It was expected to grow and be used in many disciplines and industry.
The conference has been timely and has assumed relevance among many delegates. The South African delegation received as much 38 inquiries from various Indian Freight Forwarders.