The cargo tracking agreement reached between the Liberian government and Cargo Tracking Maritime Solutions Limited will prevent loss of revenue and eliminate theft in the industry, officials and expert have said.
The Cargo Tracking Notes (CTN) is a global platform for collection and management of commercial and logistical information relating to the cargo and ship from the port of loading to the port of discharge. It has been introduced and implemented in about 22 African countries.
Its successes prompted the Liberian government to sign on to the platform.
At present, there is a global movement to implement policies that would enable countries to screen and track cargos as part of efforts to deal with these challenges.
In Liberia, the case is not different, as these global drawbacks continue to impede the country’s attempts to position the ports as efficient trading hubs, prompting the government to look for ways to enhance trade facilitation.
The justification of CTN implementation across Africa, and strictly by Customs Authorities is therefore anchored in several international conventions, projects and programmes globally.
There are indications that some importers provide inadequate information on their goods making it difficult for the Customs division to correctly verify the goods that are brought in, the volumes, weight etc. and in a bid to explore other means, they often resort to manual verification which comes with its own challenges.
In addressing this challenge, the National Port Authority has therefore decided to implement the Cargo Tracking Notes (CTN) system which is used globally to be able to cure some of these drawbacks.
By adopting the CTN system into Liberia, Customs is seeking to modernize its operations to facilitate the movement of legitimate trade in line with international best practices.
Under the new system, exporters the world over, shipping cargo to Liberia will be expected to provide detailed and timely information about their shipment in advance on the global online platform.
Once implementation begins, the National Port Authority and other stakeholders at the country’s ports can start their import review processes in advance.
As part of the system, all cargoes coming into the country must be covered by a CTN number, a unique loading certificate number which confirms detailed information about the cargo and the movement between ports.
It is this unique number that would give Customs and other relevant authorities the opportunity to effectively control, supervise and manage import traffic.
The CTN number is mandatory, without which clearing of goods at the ports will not be possible.
A key component of CTN is that it gives advanced notification of shipment details before they even arrive at the destination port.
The CTN system allows Customs to verify information such as; description of cargo, weight, volume, type, and value of the cargo, exporter/importer, mode of shipment and shipping route as well as the value of the freight.
Through this system, a common platform is thus created which allows each country to maintain important statistical data for future logistical monitoring.
Process made easier
Technology continues to change the face of transactions globally, and this system which is predominantly online also gives room for shippers or forwarders to generate their CTN numbers online, as well as complete the shipment process through the same means.
They do not also have to go through a long process to generate this unique code as it can be done online by providing some basic information, uploading relevant supporting documents and then proceeds to make payments to generate the CTN number.
The shipper then has to validate the CTN number which is estimated to a maximum of seven days to complete.
Once validated, the CTN is then made electronically available online to the shipper or forwarder and the Customs authority at the destination and then proceeds with the Bill of Lading and manifest.
Importers in Liberia must ensure that their respective shippers or forwarders at the port of origin provide them with a Valid CTN number that would be on all their shipping documents.
Cargo Tracking Maritime Solutions Limited, a firm established to provide global online electronic services with regard to cargo shipment information, has been given the mandate by the National Port Authority (NPA) to implement the system in Liberia.
Being an international company, CTN Group seeks ultimately to offer Customs Authorities across Africa the much-needed platform for engagement and exchange of information.
Since it is operating globally, CTN is the sole representative to generate CTN number for all shipments from every loading port around the globe to Liberia.
The implementing company, CTN Liberia together with the National Port Authority has thus begun the process of the implementation of the CTN system in Liberia.
CTN is not new. In Europe and America (where CTN evolved after the events of 9/11), it has tremendously improved pre-shipment information to these countries and helped them avert threats to their economies.
It is with these in mind that the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and other international organiSations such as the World Trade Organizations have ratified the needed protocols to ensure that all nations of the world conform to best international practices such as the use of the CTN, because of its enormous benefits.
A key feature of this project is the customs-to-customs engagement at different levels which hitherto has never been the case on a common platform, which is the CTN.
The system, according to experts will help to avert the physical inspection of goods at the ports, the lifting of prices for goods due to lack of suspicion on the part of customs officials and also help improve the overall port efficiency, among many other benefits to the country.
What does Liberia stand to benefit From New Cargo Regime?
The Liberian government, through the National Port Authority (NPA), recently disclosed the establishment of a tracking system at all seaports of entrances in Liberia to trace goods entering and leaving the country.
The Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) or the global system of information on cargo for the protection of ships and port facilities is a solution of verification and monitoring of international maritime transport in order to prevent any attack and locate the responsibility of each maritime operator in the case of shipping hazardous and dangerous product.
But since the NPA made this disclosure, there have been mix-reactions relative to what Liberia stands to benefit, though the NPA said the CTN will help to strengthen the image of ports and countries that have signed, respected and implemented the required plan of the ISPS Code.
The CTN will ensure that the total value of sea freight is known, both in mass and in relative share in relation to the value of exports and imports.
It will determine the rate of coverage of maritime transport by national armaments and third-party armaments; etc.; speed up the merchandise removal process: save time, synonymous with reduced storage/warehousing or demurrage costs and Knowledge and tracking of international shipping costs.
The CTN regime will also detection and fight against any discriminatory pricing practice and will also provide a study of the behavior and degree of risk-taking of economic operators in their international trading operations through the explanation of certain information from the CTN, such as Incoterms.
It will also forecast volumes by types of goods; improvement of the occupation of the container parks and the medians thanks to faster delivery of the goods; reduction of transit time, hence the improvement of port yields and reduction of port costs, and consequently improvement of port competitiveness; contribution to the fight against fraud, hence the improvement of customs revenue: the export declaration and the final invoice attached to the CTN discourage fraud on value and constitute for the Customs sources of additional information very significant; accelerated customs clearance procedures, among others.
It is worth noting that the CTN is not a customs instrument, but an instrument used by Customs and other administrations such as ports.
In countries where the collaboration between the actors of the port community in the context of the exploitation of the CTN, these have really appropriated the system by relying on the access open to them to carry out electronically their controls before the arrival of the ship.