OPINION | Paving the Way for Future Trade with New Artificial Intelligence (AI) Features writes Smbat Sargsyan

In today’s fast-paced world of trade, the demand for efficiency and transparency has never been more pronounced. Digitalization and cutting-edge technologies have continued to streamline trade processes fostering a more efficient trading ecosystem.

Annually, the European Commission’s Customs Union manages a staggering €3.5 trillion in goods trade, highlighting how vital it is to have smooth customs and clearance control checks. In the past decade, Africa has experienced growth in the export of goods and services and its economics outline promising opportunities for further growth aimed at facilitation and integration.  

As trade volumes continue to rise and digitalization shapes e-commerce, customs, port, and border administrations must adapt quickly to ensure smooth clearance processes, accurate tracking, regulatory compliance, and timely delivery.

As Easy as One Click with AI

At the core of modern trade facilitation lies a Single Window platform for Trade, a facility designed to streamline and optimize the exchange and the submission of documents across international borders. Defined by the UN Economic Commission for Europe, Single Window platforms serve as a centralized hub where all trade and transport stakeholders can submit standardized information and documents through a single-entry point.  

While the concept of Single Window for Trade isn’t new and has existed for one decade, Webb Fontaine’s platform, Webb Single Window, offers a fresh and innovative perspective. In line with evolving market trends, the company constantly innovates, updates, and improves the electronic platform to address current trade challenges.

A significant advantage of the platform is its AI-based solution, which greatly enhances the efficiency and accuracy of trade facilitation processes. With AI-driven document autoclassification and data extraction, the risk of errors is substantially reduced, saving both time and resources for traders and government agencies. Traders can easily submit their documents with just one click, confident that they will automatically be classified with accuracy and precision, while OGAs validate them with a single click.

The most recent addition to the Single Window arsenal is the revamped LPCO (Licenses, Permits, Certificates, and Others) application leveraging advanced technologies such as Spring Boot and React JS. This further enhances a seamless user experience and enhanced scalability.  

Currently, 30% of LPCOs (licenses, permits, certificates, and other trade-related documents) are returned to traders for mistakes and corrections and need to be resubmitted. Webb Fontaine’s solutions substantially reduce the number of LPCOs returned to traders for corrections, resulting in time and cost savings, as well as resources.  

Facilitating Currency Exchange Control

Across the globe, where the use of digital tools and platforms has accelerated, the demand for forex is on the rise. Webb Fontaine’s eForex module emerges as the perfect resolution for traders and companies battling with the complexities of international transactions. eForex is a crucial tool for central banks or treasuries to monitor foreign currency transactions. Traders can submit requests to a central bank or treasury department for currency exchange approval. These requests may be either approved or rejected by the institution. If approved, the institution vigilantly oversees the usage of the currency by meticulously tracking its allocation in import and export declarations.

In the current landscape of trade facilitation and global commerce, there are numerous challenges such as regulatory compliance, red tape, and onerous customs and trade procedures often impacting businesses’ operations. Webb Fontaine’s innovative solutions effortlessly address many of these issues. The company’s offerings, including its novel rapid deployment capability, enables Governments to benefit from an operational Single Window platform within a mere two to three months.

As trade practices continue to evolve and new challenges arise, the need for effective trade processes becomes more important. By embracing the technological advancements, businesses, government agencies, and regulatory bodies can effectively navigate the complexities of international trade contributing to economic growth and regional integration.

By Smbat Sargsyan, Product Director at Webb Fontaine 

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