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IATA Cargo Symposium zooms in on Digitization, Trade Facilitation, Safety and People Development

In its recently held World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Dallas the International Air Transport Association (IATA) highlighted four priorities for the future success of the air cargo industry: accelerating the digitization of the supply chain, enforcing regulations for lithium batteries, more efficient trade facilitation and developing the next generation of air cargo leaders.

Glyn_Hughes_IATASpeaking on the occasion Mr Glyn Hughes, Global Head of Cargo, IATA said, “Air cargo had an exceptional year in 2017 with 9 per cent growth. And we expect a very healthy 4.5 per cent expansion of demand in 2018. There are great opportunities in e-commerce and the movement of time-and-temperature sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals. But we must accelerate the modernization of processes, enforce regulations for the safe transport of lithium batteries and improve the efficiency of trade facilitation. Longer-term, we also need to inspire the next generation of talent. The air cargo industry has agreed to focus on these key areas and we must follow through.” He also called for a strong collective voice against the building headwinds of protectionist measures.

The IATA Cargo Symposium also delved into the progress of e-freight. The industry has been pursuing a digital process transformation known as e-freight for over a decade. A key element of e-freight is the market adoption of the e-air waybill (eAWB). Global penetration has nearly reached 53 per cent and the industry is targeting 68 per cent by year-end on enabled trade lanes. In addition, IATA is facilitating and supporting the modernization and transformation process through its industry transformation programme, Simplifying the Business (StB) Cargo.

Pondering on Safety Regulations and improving Enforcement of Safety Regulations for Lithium Batteries Mr Hughes maintained that safety was the industry’s main priority. “Global standards and regulations are in place to ensure the safe transport of dangerous goods including lithium batteries. However, mis-declared or non-compliant dangerous good shipments, especially involving lithium battery consignments, continue,” he added.

“We see too many examples of abuse including mislabeling of lithium batteries. Governments must step up enforcement of dangerous goods regulations and take a tougher stance against rogue shippers. This includes using their power to impose significant fines and custodial sentences on those violating the regulations,” Mr Hughes further stressed.

On trade facilitation Mr Hughes pointed out that in 2017 an average of 1.41 days were taken to clear goods through customs controls (with significant regional variation), which is too slow for businesses that compete on speed to meet their customer needs. “We need to work together with governments to cut the red tape and facilitate faster, cheaper and easier trade,” stated the IATA Cargo Head.

IATA is pressing for governments to implement three important global standard/initiatives: The Montreal Convention 1999 (MC99), Kyoto Convention of the World Customs Organization and the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

According to Mr Hughes, MC99 enables digital documentation in customs documentation—a key enabler of the e-AWB. To date, 131 countries have implemented MC99. But some key countries where air cargo has an important role still need to come on board—including Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Ghana, Iran, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. In his opinion, revisions to the Kyoto Convention of the World Customs Organization will facilitate smart border solutions that reduce complexity and cost. He also maintained that the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement will make trade cheaper, faster and easier.

As regards to people development, underlined Mr Hughes, IATA’s Future Air Cargo Executives (FACE) programme aims at attracting, retaining and developing a diverse pool of young professionals to prepare them to become the next generation of leaders in the Cargo Industry. “To achieve the scale and sustainability required to meet the skills need for future growth of the air cargo industry a more collaborative and concerted effort towards developing a sustainable workforce is required across out industry,” he concluded.

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