TradeCard Inc, the end-to-end financial supply chain services provider, has developed a solution for the easier electronic submission of customs declaration forms for import and export. The TradeCard offering will allow traders to use data already in their system to fill out customs declaration forms at the press of a button.

Initially rolled out in Hong Kong, the new service connects TradeCard members to electronic customs declaration initiatives developed by governments, eliminating the need to manually enter all the data themselves. In Hong Kong, the TradeCard system was integrated with the electronic trade declaration service offered by Tradelink Electronic Commerce Ltd, a joint venture between the Hong Kong SAR government and other private sector shareholders.

Says Kurt Cavano, chairman and CEO of TradeCard: “International trade is a highly complex business. Each shipment generates at least 40 documents or copies and can go through as many as sixty distinct processes. Customs documentation is one of the major issues in trade that TradeCard solves through automatically populating documents based on the three initial documents: the PO, invoice and packing list.

“The trade declaration integration with Hong Kong’s Tradelink adds another important piece to this. Our mission is to make international trade easier and we are delighted to complete another step on our way to fulfil this mission.”

The successful pilot was run with two local companies. The service will be fully rolled out in Hong Kong in mid December and TradeCard is exploring the expansion of this service to other countries where electronic customs declarations are used, such as the US, the EU, Singapore, Korea and Japan.

Estimated time savings with this new feature are between five to 10 minutes per customs declaration. According to the general statistics branch of the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, an average of 1.4mn declarations per month were received electronically by the Hong Kong government during the 12 months ending March 2003. This means that the new integrated service with TradeCard could potentially account for nearly 3mn man-hours of savings annually for Hong Kong.

In addition to this, if TradeCard’s full online transaction service is used, both man-hour and cost savings gained through greater process efficiencies will be significantly higher, claims the company.

Another important benefit is the elimination of errors in customs declarations that can lead to costly payment delays on the part of the supplier.

Electronic customs declaration services projects are currently in progress all around the globe, either by individual governments or by regional groupings, to ensure faster processing of goods as well as increased control and border security in the face of terrorism. Examples are the European Customs Declaration Standard developed by the EU, the G7 Electronic Export Declaration Process implemented by the G7 countries and secure cross-border transaction services that include automated customs declarations already in use by the Pan-Asian Alliance in Southeast Asia. In China, one of the world’s top trading nations, 80% of customs declarations are already processed electronically, according to the General Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection.

TradeCard members could now benefit from the automation of the last piece in the transaction chain: automation of the customs documentation process. This expands the TradeCard electronic trade transaction solution into a fully automated service from purchase order to payment to customs declaration. Both importers and exporters will benefit by:

Minimising administrative cost, by shortening the time spent on data entry

Improving data accuracy by pre-populating the fields with known and available data

Avoiding key stroke errors through reentering the same data several times

Establishing a basis for possible future enhancements in streamlining overall business procedures