UK traders say blockchain can ameliorate impending customs congestion

David Davis, who holds the title of Brexit Secretary, said today that a new customs system will be in place by 2019. UK traders have pointed out that blockchain could automate and systematize the administrative burdens of customs oversite generated by the impending customs regime.

Adoption of blockchain technology in the logistics industry has been uneven despite its promise. While the technology is making headway in the maritime mode, airfreight has struggled to implement the technology, in part because of how segmented the industry is. Many smaller companies resist the expensive adoption costs, while others cling to legacy systems. If blockchain becomes the default monitoring and tracking system along the borders of one of the world’s largest economies, other state and non-state actors could follow suite.

Jody Cleworth, CEO of Marine Transport International, said blockchain would maintain the same “frictionless” border that the U.K. currently enjoys with the E.U. “Blockchain offers a better way of recording customs data in a way that can be shared both securely and transparently with multiple parties,” Cleworth explained. “In the marine supply chain, we have seen how a blockchain-enabled system can greatly reduce associated administrative costs and time delays.”

Blockchain allows authorized individuals, such as border agents, to access shipment data that could, in theory, cover the shipment along the entire supply chain. Any efforts to tamper with the shipment or corrupt the report would be visible to authorized agents, meaning that suspicious shipments would be easy to spot.

Cleworth explained that blockchain could give border officials automatic access to data and documents linked to the vehicle as it reaches the boarder. “The added bonus is an immutable record of provenance, meaning that supply chains or goods can be traced to source and destination,” he said. This gives agencies a real-time view of what cargo and persons are arriving or departing from a specific port. And because it’s all automated and digital, border agents could rely on algorithms to detect anomalies.

“The challenges posed by a new U.K./E.U. border must be dealt with using the best technological means at our disposal,” Cleworth concluded. “Blockchain represents one of best options at present.”

To learn more about the impact of blockchain onfreight forwarding, air freight and logistics, join us at Air Cargo World’s ELEVATE Conference in Miami, Oct. 2. Click here for registration information.

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