February 2021

Improving digital access to advance sea cargo information – Sri Lanka Customs has officially joined the Digitising Global Maritime Trade project.

Sri Lanka Customs is partnering wiht Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the private sector on the new project Digitising Global Maritime Trade (DGMT). The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is financing the project.

The DGMT project brings together partners from the public and private sectors to improve digital access to advance sea cargo data for customs authorities. Its aim is to implement a new data integration solution called ASYHUB, which allows sea cargo data to be exchanged seamlessly between Sri Lanka Customs and the data providers involved in maritime trade processes.

On 11 February 2021, the Director General of Sri Lanka Customs, Major General (Retd.) G. Vijitha Ravipriya, UNCTAD Director Division on Technology and Logistics Ms Shamika Sirimanne, GIZ Country Director Ms Christiane Einfeldt and UN Resident Coordinator Ms Hanaa Singer-Hamdy signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Sri Lanka Customs headquarters in Colombo formalising cooperation.

“We are honoured that Sri Lanka was selected as a pilot for the implementation of this new technological solution. We expect that the implementation of the digital platform ASYHUB will enable speedy clearance of cargo, reduced transit time and ultimately minimize the trade costs for the private sector.” Mr. Vijitha Ravipriya said.

The data supplied will enable Sri Lanka Customs to process cargoes prior to arrival and departure and make earlier decisions on which to inspect and which to release, thereby reducing the time and costs involved in maritime trading for importers and exporters.

This project exemplifies Germany’s firm commitment to support rules-based, fair and free trade, particularly the implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. The project’s outcomes will strengthen the framework conditions for trade and investment in Sri Lanka and make it an even more attractive market,” said Mr Holger Seubert, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Sri Lanka.

GIZ Country Director for Sri Lanka, Ms Christiane Einfeldt, emphasised that cooperation between the public and private sectors on improving access to information through digitalisation would have distinct advantages. “By providing technical expertise and feedback during the implementation, the private sector stakeholders play an important role in ensuring an effective outcome. GIZ will support these new  processes with targeted in-depth capacity building and awareness raising.”, she said.

Ms Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD Director, Division on Technology and Logistics, highlighted the benefits to Sri Lanka Customs of a streamlined risk management process:

“ASYHUB will provide Sri Lanka Customs with richer information to support a more informed risk assessment for a better targeting and more effective decision-making on which shipments to inspect. This means the project would increase the capacity of Customs to keep goods moving while reducing risks, which is especially relevant in the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

Sri Lanka is the second country to officially join the project after the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia joined in October 2020.