Simplifying a complex supply chain

From the March 2019 issue.

November 2018 marked a pivotal milestone for Oman’s foray into streamlining international road transport logistics. This move could see other governments around the world follow suit.

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) announced in October 2018 that Arabian Peninsula nation, Oman, intended to join TIR to streamline procedures at borders and reduce administrative burden for customs authorities and transport and logistics companies.

The pending ratification of the global standard for customs transit is now poised to transform the country’s road transport, intermodal and trade potential, bringing it ever closer to becoming a major global logistics hub, according to the IRU.

With a view to achieving the Oman Logistics Strategy, the next steps after ratification are to implement TIR in order to improve the country’s soft infrastructure, support mechanisms and institutions to facilitate trade. Oman’s strategic location, suggests huge potential for trade acceleration, too.

“We share a common and certain conviction with our partners in Oman that modernising road transport services and harmonising the customs procedures will offer a powerful platform to address broader issues of regional trade development, sustainability and economic growth,” IRU Secretary General, Umberto de Pretto said in the lead-up to the IRU’s World Congress in Muscat.
The activation of TIR will reportedly see benefits of seamless cross-border connectivity, and with Bahrain looking to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) TIR network, Oman is set to play a strategic role in lifting regional trade prospects.

IRU said it would work closely with the relevant Omani agencies to develop a digital TIR system that applies the latest technologies and is at the core of efforts to ensure a transparent and more efficient supply chain.

“There is no doubt that this step will improve transport services, and be a major contribution to achieving the National Logistics Strategy to facilitate sustainable trade activities and attract investment into Oman,” said Minister of Transport and Communication of the Sultanate of Oman, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi.

The IRU World Congress, held in Muscat, Oman, brought road industry leaders together along with business, government and thought leaders to exchange ideas, debate solutions and define the future of transport, mobility, logistics and trade.

IRU President, Christian Labrot, welcomed participants and encouraged action on the opening day of the event (2 November 2018).

“We are excited to bring the industry to Oman, to the IRU World Congress 2018, to take part in the new global event for transport, mobility and logistics,” he said in his opening address. “This is the platform for the world’s transport leaders to stay ahead of the game and to keep up with the lightning speed of innovation and technology.”

Themed ‘Innovation on the Move’, the Congress was co-hosted by Asyad, Oman’s premier provider of integrated logistics services. It explored the vital role of technology in driving improvement and facilitating global trade. Nabil Salim AlBimani, Group Chief of Ports & Freezone at Asyad said: “Technology-driven innovation will be the key to meeting the challenges of tomorrow”.
Transport leaders from over 75 countries registered for the event, along with numerous major transport companies including Volvo, AXA, PWC, Mercedes Benz, MAN, IBM, and Virgin Hyperloop.

Themes included new technology, disruptive business models, laws and investment strategies, changing trade patterns, new market needs, emissions, decarbonisation and social issues.

Program highlights included John Defterios from CNN as moderator, and Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and former President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, who addressed the opening plenary to spark debate.

Other keynotes included technologists, thought leaders in change, mobility, transport, trade and logistics, including futurist, Jim Carroll, who encouraged the industry to embrace change, “In a time of rapid change, you can’t expect to get by on what has worked in the past. You must be willing to do things differently. Abandon routine – embrace velocity!”

On driver shortage, Alex Knowles from Knowles transport said: “My belief is that automated vehicles or not, there will always be a job for the lorry driver (in my tenure anyway)”.

Addressing the decarbonisation challenge, Benny Smets, CEO of the Belgian transport company, Ninatrans, warned that alternative fuels are the future for road transport, but only if they are easy to access.

Ministerial representatives from the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa also took part in dedicated meetings, with agreements formed on the sidelines and tangible outcomes for a strategy on joint action.

The Congress also marked the culmination of IRU’s 70th anniversary adventure, We Love the Road. David Couliau, a film producer, entrepreneur, skateboarder and storyteller, travelled through 18 countries across three continents by truck, bus, coach, taxi and skateboard to meet the real people of road transport.

On 7 November 2018, the IRU announced that Oman’s most senior customs officials, CEO Ahmed Al Bulushi from Mwasalat and Col. Khalifa Ali Al Siyabi, Director General of the Royal Oman Police - Directorate of Customs, joined IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto in signing a declaration to implement TIR in Oman.

The activation of TIR will reportedly strengthen Oman’s position as a major global logistics hub, facilitate regional trade and increase investor confidence in the sector. IRU is set to work closely with the relevant Omani agencies to develop a digital TIR system that applies the latest technologies and guarantees transparent and seamless cross-border connectivity.

The signing of the declaration took place as the second day of the IRU World Congress got underway.

Electronic Trends

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) calls for paperless road transport operations, following developments with the electronic Air Waybill (e-AWB) in November 2018.

According to IRU, the e-AWB will become the default contract of carriage for all air cargo shipments on trade lanes from 1 January 2019.The Union has welcomed this change, highlighting the road transport industry’s equivalent, e-CMR.

“In its paper-based format, the CMR consignment note brings many benefits: it harmonises contractual conditions for goods transported by road and helps facilitate goods transport overall,” the IRU said in a statement. “A global e-CMR solution would retain all these benefits, but would make the system more modern, by removing paperwork and handling costs. This is why IRU supports its members and the wider industry in adopting e-CMR.”

IRU Global Innovation lead, Zeljko Jeftic, said that all industry modes need to go hand-in-hand when it comes to digitalisation in order to enable more efficient intermodal operations for the benefits to be truly felt. He added that e-AWB is not new but the fact that airfreight aims at swift progression towards 100 per cent uptake is.

A large part of airfreight in Europe and beyond is carried by truck through Road Feeder Services, according to the IRU.

“These trucks are even included in flight schedules,” IRU said in a statement. “However, as soon as the highly digital air freight industry hits the road, it faces delays as a result of requirements for paper documents, such as consignment notes. The widespread adoption of e-CMR is therefore a priority for the industry.”

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