Container shipper Maersk is expanding its trade finance offering to include customs brokerage.

The new service, called Maersk Customs House Brokerage, will use Transamar – a Spanish customs agent owned by Maersk – to facilitate communication between government authorities and the importers and exporters. This involves preparing documents or electronic submissions to relevant government authorities, detailing the calculation and payment of taxes, duties and excises.

Maersk Customs House Brokerage represents a further push by the Danish firm to expand its activities beyond maritime transport and go deeper into its clients’ supply chains. The service is now offered as part of the shipping line’s trade finance product, a digital platform launched last year, in which Maersk offers its customers pre-shipment and post-shipment credit facilities.

Currently available in India, Spain, Netherlands, Singapore, the UAE and the five US states of South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, New York and New Jersey, Maersk Trade Finance aims to fill the lending gap for small and medium sized exporters who are unable to access finance through their banks. The advantage of Maersk is that, unlike banks, it does not need to ask for collateral, as it has the goods in its possession while at sea, and it has access to information about the sellers and buyers through its own database.

This latest development comes as Maersk invests in new technology to enhance supply chain services in order to expand its reach into end-to-end goods trade.

Earlier this year, Maersk and IBM launched a blockchain-powered global trade platform called TradeLens, the result of a partnership the two entered in 2017. The platform connects all parties in the trade ecosystem, enabling them to interact, access real-time shipping data and exchange digital trade documentation – all backed by a secure, immutable audit trail.