Single  Window is defined as a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements


Seven steps towards the e-manifest ("Capital Express" № 1/2013)

The next meeting on the implementation of electronic manifest was held two weeks later, on 14 February, after the decision of the Interagency Working Group, established by order of the Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov, on the introduction of an electronic manifest instead of the paper one. The meeting, which was attended by representatives of Customs, shipping lines, stevedoring companies, container terminal operators, shipping companies, was chaired by the Head of the Odessa port, Mr Yuri Vaskov.

As noted by Mr Vaskov, starting from January 24, with the participation of all stakeholders, 292 containers were handled and endorsed by lines in electronic form. On 27 February, at the meeting of Interdepartmental Commission in Kiev, we crossed the 400 mark. In recent days, during several meetings in Kiev, during the visit of Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Vilkul in Odessa port, the introduction of electronic manifest was considered at the level of central authorities. In the near future, the Cabinet of Ministers is to consider a change in Decree No 451, which will finally legalize electronic form of documents at ports.

Yes, we can and we should

A recent incident in the port of Odessa, reminded the dashing 90s. One of the broker companies forged a seal of the Southern Customs on paper, and tried to take container with high-value goods from the port. Fortunately, the crime was prevented by law enforcement officials.

To prevent such incidents, we have received an official document of the SCSU on the need to shift to an electronic authorization not only at the border, but at customs, which gives the right to leave the port. The port must implement electronic manifest that through a single port community system (EIPS) will get to the Customs for the control of vehicles with containers leaving the port,” Mr Vaskov said.

In support of these words the Deputy Head of Southern Customs Mr Yuri Sokolov, speaking to the meeting, stressed the importance of the transmission and processing of cargo transported in containers, using electronic documents. Customs officers should discuss the arising questions with the port.

“Recently, we have made progress in implementing the project called “e-manifest”. In January, additionally equipped with 14 workstations for TGT, customs clearance officials were trained with the help of experts and operators of ports and can operate in EIPS system. However, the attempt of unauthorized removal of the container with highly valued goods worth more than half a million (UAH) makes us force the introduction of an electronic documents. This case once again confirmed that the regulatory authorities cannot continue to work without the electronic document and without all transport stakeholders putting electronic authorization. It is impossible to keep the port employee at the port gates, who will check the manifests or make checks on the database by telephone for 600 import containers. And indeed it is the old-fashioned way of business,” Yuri Sokolov said.

Everything new is generally accepted in the “hostile” and it is very difficult making headway. Yuri Sokolov told how difficult it was for customs officers to accept the electronic declaration. Exporters also was concerned. However, over time, even those who really did not want to adopt an innovation, are now working in the electronic declaration system with exports. They are experiencing no difficulties. Freight forwarders are equipped with digital signatures and can make notes in electronic form on the actual movement of goods.

“Our task now is to make a shift towards the exchange of electronic information. In support of these words, I can say that the electronic database of customs and tax services have become one single base. This will prevent unnecessary testing, audit, etc. Together with the port we worked through the algorithms of implementation of e-manifest, so that the customers have no problems in operation. It will be a so-called “interim procedure for clearance of containers.” We tried to make the transition to electronic manifest simple enough. At the first stage of implementation electronic manifests will have priority. As regards the authorities, nothing changes: we have to make it in designated standards – in 4:00 hours. We hope that this will encourage freight forwarders. We are willing to listen to comments from participants of the transport process,” Yuri Sokolov said.

Clients having no problems

This, according to Mr Vaskov, is the main condition for the introduction of an electronic documents. Therefore, the port authority, without giving up the paper flow at the same time introduces an electronic manifest.

The key problem that arises when connecting container lines to EIPS is integration into the port. Since most of the shipping agents are representatives of foreign companies having their software, they need to adapt it to the port community system through specific modules and converters.

What is a converter? This was described in detail by the Chief of logistics and commercial port operations, Mr Vyacheslav Voronoy.

“Each line has its own system. EIPS is the system that is connected to the linear agents by installing a specially equipped workplace. Under current legislation, all linear agents provide information to SCSU prior to the discharge. According to the requirements, this information is provided in XML. So far, it is not certified by the electronic signature. At this stage, before the adoption of the relevant CMU it is only the assurance that information by electronic signature without increasing its volume. This can be done by setting the module itself liner agent or specialist provider. The company PPL 33-35 (software developer of EIPS) is ready to provide appropriate assistance to line agents.”

Line agent, you get to choose

However, as the representative of CMA CGM said, not all get to convert the information through the module. Employees do it manually. “Today the small amount of work is done manually, as EIPS system is under construction and the required information is provided on each call to the office once a week. When the system is fully operational, we will have to do it dozens or even hundreds of times a day. It is very difficult for the line. We just want that the proposed model is understandable and accessible to all transporters. At the same time, we understand the benefits of this system, and support the implementation of electronic manifest,”  Mr Alexander Shchekin, Director General CMA CGM SHIPPING AGENCIES Ukraine stated.

According to Mr Vaskov, each company chooses in which mode to provide advance information to the office: with the help of the module or in manual mode. However, from now, on demand of SCSU, this information should be authenticated by the digital signature. And in this case it is possible to do this in modern way, through the use of the module, or manually.

“Way to install the module and the mechanism of information conversion are identified. At the same time, the port administration in no way is trying to regulate your work. It is only the information that is already available to Customs we speak about. Our task, without complicating your job to make the system safer and more advanced. I must inform you that, other than containers, we need to translate dry bulk and other goods in EIPS. In EDIFACT format these types of transportation are not worked out as they should. That’s why we started with the standard, which is present in all traffic. In addition, as we have discussed, we need to work within the law. Today, we have to solve very specific task: to provide the e-manifest along with the electronic digital signature. This form is required for all freight forwarders. Parallel to this, the paper format of manifest will be valid,” Vaskov said.

Easier than it seems at first glance

Before presenting the algorithm of the transition to electronic document, Mr Voronoy informed the participants about the work done in the period from January 24, i.e. last meeting under the supervision of the port Head. A project “Provisional order of registration of containers” is developed. Since January 24, 292 containers were handled in electronic form and endorsed by the lines. 230 freight forwarding companies are connected to the EIPS, which provide 99% of the volume of containers handled. A seminar for agents and stevedoring companies was organized, etc.

Then Mr Voronoy presented algorithm of transition for line agents and freight forwarders to electronic documents, which he called the “seven steps”.

“Freight forwarder issues manifest at his workplace using the installed software. The information is automatically sent to the office and the lines. Then the printed by the forwarder document is submitted to the line agent. He has a choice: to work in the system or not. If the line is willing to work in the system, it endorses the manifest in electronic form, and it automatically enters the SCSU. Customs service is given two hours to authorize the document automatically, without hardcopies. If the line does not endorse manifest, the freight forwarder uses the old system, meaning, he goes to the customs office himself. Next manifest enters the TGT, which is also connected to the system. Here you need to enter additional data, in particular car registration number. If this data is entered into the electronic manifest, it takes 15 minutes for the TGT employee to prepare electronic vehicle permit. If there is no data on the vehicle, the forwarder may visit the TGT registration group and enter it. The next step: manifest is submitted to the stevedoring company where the technology is the same. After the manifest gets to the customs office, which seals electronic visa authorizing the departure of vehicles from the port.”

From the above it can be concluded that the current scheme practically does not change, except for the penultimate stage (electronic digital signature of the Customs Service.) But these changes do not apply to freight forwarders. To deliver forwarders no inconveniences, Port carefully examined each step. At every step, the forwarder is given the chance to easily and quickly go through the process of registration. The parties concerned had a chance to receive instructions for using the system. The consultations were held for 239 freight forwarders from 152 forwarding companies. “Provisional order of container handling” entered into force on March 1. Now, as a pilot run, it applies only at the Port of Odessa. After the decision of Cabinet of Ministers and coordination with regulatory agencies, a temporary order will become