Hans Rook: The International Maritime Organization’s FAL Trade Facilitation Guide provides the regulatory framework for ports in Europe concerning what needs reporting at a Maritime level to Port authorities.
In addition, the European Union issues guidelines and determines the regulations from the Directorate-Generals for Mobility and Transport (DG-Move) and Taxation and Customs (DG-Taxud) regarding the method of reporting and what must be reported.
The European Maritime Single Window (EMSW) is being set up for this purpose and aims to harmonize the reporting for maritime-related matters within Europe for both local and national governments.
Hans Rook: Digitalization and collaboration are the two magic words as on date. Ports that still operate without the digital exchange information inevitably see many delays in the handling of cargo on both the sea and land sides. The logistics and information flow are not synchronized with the physical handling and information exchange on a bilateral basis. These factors, together, lead to delays due to mistakes in descriptions and the late delivery of documents. This all results in high costs coupled with the waiting times of the physical onward transport, whether by road, rail, or waterway.
The disparity between ports often leads to shippers rerouting their cargo through more advanced and efficient ports. So, it is time to change and adopt digital exchange processes whereby a Port Community System (PCS) acts as the central hub and trusted third party enabler for information exchange, an essential tool in the logistics infrastructure of the port involved.
Hans Rook: The question is no longer whether it is required to have a Port Community System in a Port, but how soon it can be made operational.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently held an expert meeting to discuss the maritime supply chain crisis and the need for Port Community Systems, and end-to-end communication was a topic raised by speakers.
Captain Karuppiah Subramaniam, president of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) said; while Ports cannot control everything, a Port can be placed as a trade facilitator. It can lead to a better position to coordinate with clearing agencies, Customs, and others in the Ports. He said: “Ports are moving to a role as trade facilitator within the supply chain ecosystem. We need to have Single Window Systems and Port Community Systems to share data at a press of a button with different stakeholders simultaneously. In the future, we need to link up with the stakeholders outside the Port-Warehousing, Shipping agents, Forwarders, Customs, etc.”
Hans Rook: IPCSA will continue to act in the common interest of our members to influence public policy at the international level, to promote the electronic exchange of information to enable seamless and efficient trade logistics processes. Engagement with the global, regional, and national logistics communities and relevant public bodies remains a foremost priority.
IPCSA also offers members the benefits of the Network of Trusted Network (NoTN). It is a unique, secure Port-to-Port and cross-border data exchange solution for supply chains. Via this platform, PCS operators, representing the interests of their customers, can exchange data relating to vessel/voyage information and track and trace cargo globally.
At IPCSA, we are proud of our reputation for providing Ports and regions with the support, advice, and practical guidance needed in the development of a Port Community System.
In 2021, we took a step further with the launch of our global Port Community Systems study. Building on previous work by IPCSA, including a 12-point guide to building PCS, the study will cover specific elements of PCS development, including governance, business models, technology, standards, cybersecurity, Customs, and community and stakeholder involvement. Use cases will also accompany it from around the world.
Often, IT is seen as a crucial aspect. It’s not the case! It is all about stakeholders, building trust, and change management. Ultimately, the users of a Port Community System are the ones who know what they need from it. PCS is an excellent means of exchanging logistic data where stakeholders collaborate in a neutral, trusted manner. IPCSA supports Ports with the extensive knowledge and experience shared by its members and supports Ports in implementing their plans in a phased, thorough manner, emphasizing the use of the systems.