Blockchain easing customs process
Thailand second in Asean to use system
The Customs Department is the second government agency in Asean to adopt a blockchain-based shipment tracking and information sharing platform to streamline procedures.
The department is working with IBM Thailand Co and logistics provider Maersk on the adoption of the platform, called TradeLens, which will support the Thailand 4.0 policy.
Already introduced in Singapore, TradeLens is a digital trade platform that enables efficient and accurate container tracking and information sharing among platform members.
TradeLens, jointly developed by AP Moller-Maersk and IBM, digitalises formerly paper-based shipping processes, resulting in instantaneous and immutable end-to-end data.
Patama Chantaruck, vice-president for Indochina expansion and managing director of IBM Thailand, said the implementation of blockchain technology in various forms will benefit all stakeholders in the global logistics ecosystem, driving the modernisation of trade at the national, regional and international levels.
"TradeLens will provide the Thai Customs Department with an automatic and immutable tracking tool, which will lead to a more secure, transparent, efficient and simpler workflow, with near real-time information sharing from a diverse network of ecosystem members," Ms Patama said.
In her words, the platform will let customs authorities receive shipping data as soon as containers leave the port of origin, giving officials more time to prepare to receive shipments and enabling more efficient and thorough inspections for fraud and forgery.
The platform also helps ensure more consistent and transparent revenue collection processes, Ms Patama said.
Blockchain technology could potentially boost trust among trading partners because the record of all transactions is shared within the network and permissioned parties can access the data in real time.
More than US$16 trillion (490 trillion baht) worth of goods are shipped across international borders each year, with some 80% transported by the ocean shipping industry.
Some 200 documents are exchanged in each shipment, and 300 people are involved in each shipment for the world's trading ecosystem.
Paper-based procedures are said to have created a number of pain points throughout the global supply chain system, including inaccurate information, delays caused by data input and a lack of transparency.
Chuchai Udompote, principal adviser on the development of the Customs Incentive System for the Customs Department, said the agency has worked with IBM on TradeLens since last October.
The platform will be implemented at Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri first and later at Bangkok port.
Mr Chuchai said the platform will let the department and related groups access real-time information, expediting processes and cutting costs.
TradeLens will also create greater transparency and customer satisfaction and align with the country's efforts to promote trading and economic stability by facilitating ease of doing business, he said.