Enabling Data Harmonization in Maritime Trade

Enabling Data Harmonization in Maritime Trade

In this smart world that we live in, the hard part is not to keep up with the technological changes, but to find the pieces missing and connect all of our digital knowledge to fill the gaps. Thus, when it comes to the shipping industry, although digitalization is the future, it is important that the industry focuses on two things; Data harmonization and data sharing.

It is believed that one shipment requires at least forty types of documents to move ahead. Ironically, if Customs or other regulatory bodies require amendments/corrections in the submitted documents, then again, the process repeats from the beginning. In turn, this leads to delays in hours, and sometimes even days. However, taking a closer one would understand that the submitted data to various stakeholders are nothing but the same. In that case, why not enable a data repurposing mechanism?

And this brings us to the question of using a Single Window System to achieve data harmonization. Regulatory bodies and the industry experts believe that with a Single Window System, Maritime trade could achieve seamless data harmonization that would eventually lead to smooth functioning of the Maritime ecosystem.

What is required to ensure Data Harmonization?

Even though several entities talk about data harmonization, they weren’t successful in achieving the same. Why? Because procedures differ from country to country and sometimes even region to region. For example, the model followed by European Union (EU) stresses on the need for optimizing data exchange to improve operational efficiency. This practice allows the authorities to quickly adapt to the existing trends to achieve 100 per cent efficiency without fail.

On the other hand, a country in Middle East follows a model called capture, refine, analyse, and reconcile. This model believes in consolidating thousands of data elements and creates a data set for similar ones. By doing so, redundancies and repetitions are voided. In a nutshell, to simplify a complex process, it is mandatory to have a Single Window System. Yet, the Single Window must stress upon the optimization and data repurposing factor.

What a Single Window requires to Achieve Data Harmonization?

Capture, Verify, Approve, Reuse – these are the four action words a Single Window System actually requires to ensure data harmonization in a Maritime trade environment. The definition varies from country to country and region to region. The above two are the best examples to define them.

Yet, in several countries achieving data harmonization and efficiency has been a challenge due to enormous documentation. For example, in one country, thousands of documents were in required for regulatory clearance. With the intervention of a Single Window System, the same has reduced significantly over the years. The data sets are very well repurposed.

IMO’s FAL Mandate Amendment Reiterating the Same

International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently made amends to its FAL mandate and that makes compulsory implementation of a Single Window System. Why? It again comes to the question of transparency, efficiency, and harmonization.

Digitization is the way Ahead

If there is one thing that the business world learnt from the pandemic, it is, “physical presence is not required to perform a task.” Yes, it simply says digitization is the way ahead for the business world at least.

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