Tuesday, February 13, 2018

European Commission and Chinese Ocean Container Supply Chain Security Pilot Extended to Air Freight  

First SSTL Import and Export Flights Completed

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Shipping News Feature EUROPE – CHINA – Security is an essential component along every section of the supply chain these days yet also one of the toughest things to ensure. Only by testing every link individually can one be certain that the flow of goods remains safe from the variety of malicious threats now faced, and in 2006 we saw the inception of a pilot project, Smart and Secure Trade Lanes (SSTL), which has evolved over more than a decade to now include import and export air freight rather than the original phase to ensure the security of ocean container cargo and maritime port and shipping facilities.

Launched as an initiative between the European Commission (EC) and the Chinese authorities to test specific safety and security related recommendations of the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards as regards security measures applied to containers, the project set out to facilitate international Customs data exchanges whilst ensuring full ‘down the line’ cooperation throughout a network of countries on things such as mutual recognition of customs controls and data exchange.

Four years after inception SSTL entered into its second phase, with the aim to expand the project which involved selecting more complex lanes, the inclusion of non-AEO companies and the expansion of risk management cooperation between the parties. In 2013 Hong Kong Customs joined the scheme which had already enlisted China along with Netherlands, UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland.

By this time the scheme had been adopted along 120 trade lanes involving 200 economic operators between 16 maritime ports with messages exchanged via the WCO CENComm platform. The data exchange at the initial phase of transporting a consignment meant goods would be subject to a minimum of customs intervention en route. In July 2016 Phase 3 was initiated when the joint administrative arrangement was signed at WCO Headquarters with the ten member countries joining together with the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union of the European Commission, DG TAXUD. Seven additional Member States (Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia) as well as the WCO agreed to take part as observers.

The original intention to expand the scheme to air and rail freight is now proceeding apace and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has now become the first European airport to take part in the SSTL Air pilot project with initial transits between there and Shanghai commencing in 2017, with more SSTL flight routes expected to follow between Schiphol and Shanghai Pudong, Baiyun, and Hong Kong. The first air freight shipment under the SSTL project was delivered in from Schiphol to Baiyun Airport in Guangzhou, China last May and Saskia van Pelt, Director Business Development Cargo at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, commented:

“We are glad that Dutch Customs is participating in this pilot project as this strengthens our ties with Shanghai Pudong International airport, our largest cargo destination, as well as Bayun airport, home base of China Southern airlines. The delivery of cockpit instruments in Bayun was on its way to a nearby aircraft manufacturer within 21 minutes of landing on Chinese soil, and once there it immediately entered the production process. Increased speed in the supply chain will ultimately benefit all sectors in countries participating in the SSTL programme.”

The initial inward flight arrived at Schiphol in December and was flown by Air China Cargo and booked by Yusen Logistics, one of the participants in the SSTL programme. Piet Boogaard, Regional Managing Director, Yusen Logistics Northern Europe was keen to point out the advantages of having a secure, insulated system which has the ability to improve logistical performance, saying:

“This is an important pilot programme, which will help reduce lead times and further secure the supply chain, and we are pleased to be taking part. As well as benefiting from faster release of goods and more predictable delivery times, we are proud to be supporting the development of standards that will strengthen and secure supply chains.”

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