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Coronavirus drives Sri Lanka towards e-clearance of cargo

E-DOCS: Hambantota Inernational Ports says it is moving towards electronic document clearing to speed up activities during a Coronavirus crisis.

ECONOMYNEXT – Electronic clearance of cargo which can speed up exports and can bring Sri Lanka in line with advanced ports in the world is starting in a modest way after three decades of failure, an industry official said.

Sri Lanka’s shippers have been trying to push Customs and the port towards e-docs but the process had hit many roadblocks.

“We had some developments, we switched to e-commerce, which also very fledgling,” Romesh David Chief Executive of South Asian Gateway Terminals told an online forum organized by Advocata Institute, a Colombo-based think tank.

“Import shipments and export cargo can and have moved through the port, customs and through the whole clearing process with zero interference of people.

“Things that have taken 30 years are now have happened in weeks.”

David said the start towards e-clearance has shown that is possible to move forward.

“It has shown that the trade, industry and the public sector, customs and the ports can move with electronic transactions,” David said.

“These are some fledgling steps but extremely welcomed.”

The SAGT Terminal is in Colombo port.

Hambantota port which is operated by CM Ports said this week that electronic clearance would be offered soon to customers. Most of the vehicles coming to Sri Lanka enter through Hambantota International Port.

“HIP has also enabled an online payment transfer system and is in the final process of implementing the e-DO facility for customers,” the management company said.

Sri Lanka’s tea trade has also moved towards electronic trading in the midst of the Coroanvirus crisis.
However the system proved to be slower than the human out-cry system in the first week. (Colombo/Apr26/2020)