This week, I’m in Seattle attending the World Customs Organization’s annual IT Conference and Exhibition alongside more than 500 other delegates, helping Microsoft display the next generation of technology applications to help countries and companies realize the full benefits of international trade. This year’s conference theme is cloud computing, a technology we expect to revolutionize trade and customs operations.
This is a particularly timely theme, with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and representatives from the governments of Botswana and Namibia announcing at the event the Trans-Kalahari Corridor Regional Single Window (RSW). To be built on Microsoft technology, this will be the first cloud computing-based trade application to link, for the first time, customs processes between the governments of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.
A single window provides a platform creating a single entrance point for all data and documents necessary to import or export goods – with the goal of creating a more efficient and secure customs process. The Trans-Kalahari Corridor RSW will automate customs connectivity, reduce trade costs and increase compliance between the customs authorities of all three countries. By enabling faster and more secure trade, this initiative aims to facilitate economic growth and development in the region.
With the RSW, the three countries will be able to leverage their existing customs platforms, while making their data available in the cloud for the first time. The Regional Single Window also allows for the integration of additional border agencies, enabling future development of an Integrated Border Management solution in the future.
Microsoft believes cloud computing is where the future of customs technology lies because it transcends national boundaries, creates greater IT efficiencies and helps trade stakeholders such as importers, exporters, border agencies access distant markets. It offers scalability, flexibility and unprecedented interoperability, helping trade grow as never before.
In addition, we’re exhibiting at this year’s conference with a number of our partners including Tradefacilitate (Ireland), Bureau International Maritime (Belgium), SOGET (France), GAINDE 2000 (Senegal), Crown Agents (United Kingdom) and GreenLine Systems (Arlington, VA). These partners use Microsoft’s technology to create innovative applications tailored to meet the needs of national and regional customs stakeholders such as importers, exporters, border agencies and other involved government agencies.
For example, Tradefacilitate is using the Microsoft Windows Azure platform to build their technology solutions, which target small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) importing and exporting to the European Union. Meanwhile, GreenLine Systems is helping government agencies balance their twin goals of facilitation and security with a suite of applications specifically designed to address the unique needs of customs and partner agencies.
In addition to the cloud-based Single Window planned for Southern Africa, a number of our partners are already making an impact with Single Window applications including the deployments at the ports of Congo Brazzaville and Le Havre, France, as well as modernizing customs and trade facilitation in regions such as Senegal and Central Asia.
Countries around the world rely on international trade to foster economic growth, while simultaneously enacting an increasingly complex system of customs policies and security requirements. Microsoft and its partners are committed to helping trade stakeholders navigate these challenges by applying the next generation of technology, especially cloud computing. By leveraging these advanced technologies, all partners can realize the available benefits of enhanced and efficient customs and trade transactions.