The Hongkong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics (HAFFA) said it has been actively involved in supporting the development of IATA’s initiative to launch a pilot e-freight programme on key trade routes linking Hong Kong, the UK, Singapore, Canada and the Netherlands this year. The IATA initiative aims to free air cargo of paper and allow airlines, freight forwarders, Customs and others to seamlessly exchange electronicinformation and e-documents.
The Association said that in a“paper-free” environment, the industrydoes not need to transport paper inparallel with the freight, but theremay be a requirement to producethis paper in original, copy or printede-document form for some authorityor process. The goal is to free cargohandling processes of all paper overthe world by year 2010.
Hong Kong was selected as one of the fi ve ports to roll out the pilot to prove that this “paper free” concept is workable. The local government authorities, including Customs, fully support the project and will facilitate its implementation.
A local e-freight management group (EFMG) was set up to oversee the whole project. Under the EFMG, there are a Business Working Group (BWG), Technical Working Group (TWG) and Legal Working Group (LWG). The activities started in February and the project for the pilot airlines and forwarders is expected to go live in November 2007.
In summary, the objective of the pilot is to eliminate the original paper form of six shipping documents, which will not be physically sent along with the freight. They include the House Air Waybill (HAWB), the Master Air Waybill (MAWB), the House Manifest, the Flight Manifest, the Commercial Invoice and the Packing List.
HAFFA said the implementation of the project may incur extra costs, including a process revamp, the investment of time and equipment, but the main return would be a productivity enhancement.
HAFFA has been proactively supporting and participating in the local e-freight Management Group to formulate a model, which will be suitable for its members. Being one of the pioneer locations with high cargo volumes, HAFFA said that e-freight will be a revolutionary change to future cargo operations after it concludes tests, fi nalise data standards, processes, and technical solutions during theyear-long trials.