Australia will design and trial an electronic Secure Trade Lane (STL) with New Zealand in a bid to improve trade efficiency, and has also committed to “exploring the trade-enabling and cost reduction potential of emerging technologies such as Blockchain.”
The STL initiative was first announced in February in a joint statement by the Australian and New Zealander Prime Ministers, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill English, and recently reaffirmed in the International Cyber Engagement Strategy (ICES).
The STL is likely to leverage data exchange platforms and information monitoring software so that relevant stakeholders can view cargo and supplies in real-time. Other potentially applicable technologies include GPS trackers, sensors to monitor the state of the cargo (such as temperature, humidity, and light), and a communications or messaging platform that allows users to share information securely.
The government has also asserted its support for the use of digital technologies such as paperless trading and electronic authentication that will improve trade efficiency.
The bigger picture
Both Australia and New Zealand consider automating borders a priority. According to the joint statement from February, Australia has already begun using smart tech to streamline the travel and immigration processes, which has so far involved getting rid of paper based departure cards and exploring facial recognition and biometric technologies to clear international passengers.
The European Union and China already have a Secure Trade Lane scheme underway known as the Smart and Secure Trade Lanes (SSTL) Pilot project. The SSTL was launched in 2006 to test the safety measures applied to shipping containers.
The SSTL is now in its third phase with approximately 120 trade lanes, involving 200 economic operators between 16 maritime ports. Messages are exchanged via the WCO CENComm platform, a web-based communication system that allows groups of authorised personnel to exchange information via encrypted messaging channels. The messaging platform has translation capabilities.
The rapid flow of information between countries, agencies and front-line staff is playing an increasingly important role in the effective control of international borders, and disrupting illicit trade.
The Australian-New Zealand electronic STL project falls under the broader ‘Fast Trade’ agreement – intended to increase efficiency for businesses trading across the Tasman. Another project under the agreement is an ‘E-commerce green lane’ trial, which seeks to “explore ways of improving processing of merchandise ordered or purchased on-line and sent between the two countries by mail.”
The two projects will be trialled “later this year” according to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton speaking at the 2017 Industry Summit in July.
“The Secure Trade Lane will enhance the Trusted Trader experience by rewarding accredited businesses with less administration, less interference, and more predictability,” Minister Dutton stated. “The Australian Government will benefit from earlier access to trade information and greater visibility of trusted trade, which will allow us to focus enforcement efforts on higher-risk trans-Tasman cargo.”
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