Customs streamlines import, export with e-cargo system

The Justice and Customs Department aims to increase the flow of international trade with Australia through a first-time integrated electronic cargo management system expected to go live early next year.

The data management system will replace the department's current stand-alone computer systems used to process Australia's air, land and sea import and export activities, a spokesperson for the Minister for Justice and Customs Senator Christopher Ellison, told Computerworld.

"The new streamlined cargo system will create a flexible business environment to enhance the efficiency of Customs services to importers and exporters, by replacing all business processes for lodging and processing [trade] declarations and cargo reports," the spokesperson said.

"Millions of clients including major food retailers like Coles Myer, and produce companies, car manufacturers and suppliers of household goods will save time and money through the system."

However, the spokesperson said the system is still in its infancy and could not project expected cost savings on processing for the department.

By automating all forms of cargo movement, the system will compile reports of all national import and export activity for department staff and clients, and consolidate a number of other internal customs reporting systems, the spokesperson said.

And by integrating its systems, she said the department would achieve efficiencies in cargo reporting and querying, and in reference, glossary and meta data filing - all of which she said were key to government research, analysis and decision-making.

IT outsourcer EDS has been contracted to develop the system over a two-year term, however the spokesperson declined to disclose the value of the agreement, claiming commercial sensitivity.

The integrated system is a core part of the department's Cargo Re-engineering (CMR) Project, under which the department said it will also employ sophisticated tools to identify high-risk goods and tailor business arrangements for low-risk importers and exporters under an accredited client program.

The spokesperson said the system will be phased in by early 2002, subject to customs reforms being developed by Senator Ellison under the Customs Legislation Amendment and Repeal (International Trade Modernisation) Bill 2001, expected to be passed by the Lower House next week.

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