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  • How can electronic paperwork assist me?

    Chapter 3 - Cotton marketing - Electronic paperwork 

     
     
    Banks, shipping lines, transport companies and others in the supply chain are all very interested in introducing electronic security and the standardizing electronic trade documentation. Some organizations have taken the initiative and have had electronic platforms implemented for some years now. Global shipping lines are probably at the forefront in this regard. A number of ocean carriers have fully integrated platforms that electronically monitor the initial freight booking received from the trader, automatically release containers at origin, electronically send notification of sailings and issue B/Ls when cargo is loaded on board their vessels, fully track the carrier’s containers through transshipment ports, prepare and send arrival notifications to the cargo receiver at the port of discharge – not to forget the raising and collecting of freight invoices.

    For a trader, incorporating such electronic platforms results in immediate benefits. They provide visibility, accuracy, predictability and security as well as staff efficiency, reduced L/C presentation times and quicker capital turnaround. For many sellers, the time lapse between actual shipment, execution of the physical dispatch, processing of paperwork through banking channels and the receipt of funds can take as much as 15–25 days. By incorporating a paperless electronic system, those time frames can be reduced quite significantly.

    Unfortunately, while work is being done by some in the supply chain, not all sectors are taking the required steps at this time. To return to the example of exporting Malawi cotton to China, it is understandable that with the movement from one country to the next along the chain it is virtually impossible to standardize customs formalities and paperless transactions. Sub-Saharan African countries are continually attempting to make customs procedures more uniform and therefore more efficient, but each border location has its own quirks and the procedures have yet to become totally transparent.

    Other continents too face problems, and much work is needed to provide stability to those areas in order to avoid port congestion, lock-outs and political unrest. Recently, major congestion in the port of Chittagong, Bangladesh, has resulted in most feeder operations incorporating port congestion surcharges for inbound cargo, because there are up to 12 vessels at any one time sitting outside the port for more than 7 days waiting to berth. No matter how good the electronic systems are, there is always the threat of external factors disrupting the physical movement of cargo and document flow. 
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    Cotton Exporter's Guide

    Brochure - African cotton promotion
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