The digitization of foreign trade aims to optimize processes, reduce risks and, in addition, increase efficiency and security in import and export operations. In recent years, investment in technology to boost global trade has been the focus of many national and international companies.
So check out our point of view on the advances to come.
What is digitization in foreign trade?
Digitization is a digital transformation that plays a key role in foreign trade, as it generates more transparency and enables the automation of international business transactions. This transformation generates impact throughout the supply chain, as it increases the efficiency of bureaucratic and complex processes.
How is digitization changing foreign trade?
We can mention some impacts that digitization generates in foreign trade, among them, for example, the digitization of documents such as import licenses, certificates of origin, commercial invoices etc. This fast and secure document sending management thus reduces wait time and facilitates negotiations and technical procedures.
The development of e-commerce is also part of this evolution, since e-commerce promotes the market globally. In this way, small companies benefit from this modality to buy and sell, through international digital platforms, as is the case of the Alibaba website, which has mechanisms for buying and selling securely.
Fact is that the technology is present in real-time tracking of international cargo, enhancing the control of risks in the operation. In addition, payment methods have evolved and banking transactions between countries are now safer.
Scenario until 1999
Until the 1990s, Brazilian foreign trade was composed of plastered procedures and performed manually. The use of physical documents and the mandatory physical presence of professionals in public agencies caused an increase in the time required to end a demand.
Until 1993, the Export and Import Guides were used in typed forms. These manual processes, in addition to taking more time to complete, were subject to errors and fraud. Therefore, the government noted the need to computerize import and export records to expedite the process and make it safer.
Thus, it was necessary to implement computerized systems that facilitated data transfer and operations records. The Ministry of Development, Industry, Foreign Trade and Services managed these systems that initially carried out licensing processes, certificates of origin, registrations of importers and exporters, among others.
It was in the 1990s, from the need to simplify operations, that Siscomex was created. The Integrated System of Foreign Trade aimed at integrating procedures and technical standards. With this new feature, the country’s trade gained greater international notoriety due to increased agility.
In 1993, the export module was launched and in 1997 the import module, which was a system installed on floppy ctops. In 2001, the Electronic Drawback module was incorporated into the system.
2000 – 2010
Between 2000 and 2010, the modernization and digitization of foreign trade processes in Brazil continued to advance with the implementation of new updates and resources. Thus, foreign trade professionals were already getting used to the use of the new tools, indirectly causing greater qualification in the sector.
With greater investment in technology to optimize Brazilian exports and imports, Brazil has been standing out in the international market and gaining notoriety.
In 2001, the digital certificate was created that sought to enable transactions made in digital mode and certify the security and authenticity of those involved. In 2005, the electronic invoice was launched, which focused on reducing human failures and speeding up the conference process. These initiatives have also contributed to the digitisation of foreign trade.
2010 – 2020
Between 2010 and 2020, Brazil’s digital transformation advanced even further. In 2012, the web version of Siscomex Import was developed to replace the previous one.
In 2014, the Single Foreign Trade Portal was implemented to generate greater efficiency in international trade operations. For this, it would need new updates in the system of the time, starting the development of the New Import and Export Process.
The Single Portal has three main objectives: integration, information technology and process redesign. In order to integrate the data and centralize it in one place, without the need to fill in the same information in several systems.
Brazil started to develop solutions based on artificial intelligence for document verification and risk analysis, which increased the efficiency and accuracy of the checks. In addition, the creation of the OAS Program (Authorized Economic Operator) focused on certifying importers, exporters, cargo agents and other foreign trade actors as reliable ensured the security of customs processes.
In 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the global economy, companies were pressured to digitize their processes as many offices were closed and some operations were halted. As a result of this scenario, logistics companies began to contract automation systems, including the issuance of electronic shipping knowledge and cargo monitoring. The biggest gain was the debureaucratization of the segment.
What to expect in 2023?
In view of the digitalization history of foreign trade, the trend is that more and more companies invest in technology to impact their business internationally.
Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, Internet of Things, agile methodologies and Machine Learning are key to industry advances.
E-commerce also tends to continue to grow, as it was enhanced during and after the global health crisis caused by coronavirus in 2020.
Professionals in the field should be better prepared to identify creative and innovative opportunities.
Companies and governments will continue to seek automation and digitization of export and import processes. This will be the case with the use of integrated systems and digital platforms, which should make operations faster, safer and more efficient.
Digitizing foreign trade will require greater collaboration between companies and governments to develop common standards, interoperability solutions, and regulations that promote data security and privacy.
These are just some of the prospects for digitizing foreign trade in 2023. As technology and commerce evolve rapidly, it is possible that new technologies and challenges may arise, requiring agile responses and constant innovation.
What are the biggest challenges for advancing digitisation in foreign trade?
The digitization of foreign trade is a very positive transformation, but there are also some challenges that need to be overcome for its advancement. One of the biggest challenges is to promote integration between private and public agencies systems, as each has a diverse standard.
Some companies and professionals refuse to keep up with market innovations because they do not understand the importance of technology in operations. This is a result of the lack of confidence in the security of shared data.
International trade is composed of a number of rules. But each country defines its specific norms and laws and this lack of standardization makes it difficult to transform the entire supply chain that is made up of complex processes.
These are just some of the challenges that need to be overcome for the advancement of the digitization of foreign trade. As technology and commerce evolve, new challenges can arise, requiring agile responses and constant innovation.
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