UK’s Biggest Port Operator to Explore Blockchain Solution

The privately run UK port operator, Associated British Ports (ABP), has inked a Memorandum of Understanding with freight forwarder Marine Transport International to explore a blockchain technology application aimed at improving connectivity at the 21 ports it runs.

The MOU will see ABP try out a blockchain solution developed by MTI, thereby helping ease one of the biggest headaches in the logistics sector – lack of system interoperability. The solution is expected to enhance efficiency as no time will be wasted on manually re-entering data. Currently, the port operator handles a quarter of the seaborne trade in the United Kingdom and this is nearly 100 million tons of cargo annually.

“The logistics industry is awash with proprietary technology that forces users to work in a certain way – with blockchain, we can connect all those systems to ensure data is accurately and quickly shared, helping speed-up and simplify the flow of trade in and out of the UK,” the founder and chief executive officer of MTI, Jody Cleworth, said in a statement.

Successful Trial
This is not MTI’s first blockchain trial though. A year ago the freight forwarder completed a pilot program aimed at automating and digitizing the entire supply chain process from shipper to hauler as well as from port operator to carrier, on a distributed and decentralized ledger as CCN reported.

The verification of the results from the successful pilot was conducted by University of Copenhagen’s scientists and BLOC (Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration) tech leads. At the time, Cleworth remarked that blockchain technology had the potential of revolutionizing supply chain businesses by assisting in the generation of cost savings of up to 90%.

Besides Associated British Ports, other port operators in the world that have launched similar blockchain efforts in the recent past include Abu Dhabi Ports, which three months ago launched a blockchain solution that enhances efficiency by enabling real-time tracking of cargo and eliminating paperwork. Last year in September, the Netherlands’ Port of Rotterdam Authority also unveiled an effort aimed at exploring blockchain technology with an eye on enhancing efficiency as well.

Global Trade Inefficiencies
Inefficiencies in global trade processes are blamed for holding back the expansion of trade volumes as a new World Economic Forum report released earlier this month noted while advocating for blockchain technology:

“Paper-based, manual processes, some created centuries ago, lead to complexity and delays, introduce errors and risks, and stand in the way of reliable, real-time information gathering and tracking required for credible financing decisions.”


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Author: Mark Emem
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WTO warns over tit-for-tat trade wars

Global trade has seen its most rapid growth in six years, says the World Trade Organization’s annual analysis.

But the positive news could be put at risk by tit-for-tat tariff wars that have broken out, according to the head of the WTO, Roberto Azevedo.

Broader global tensions could also see trade suffer.

Last month, President Donald Trump unveiled plans for a 25% tariff on US steel imports from countries such as China and a 10% tariff on aluminium.

That followed an announcement earlier in the year for tariffs – import taxes – on washing machines and solar panels.

The president said that battles on trade were good and “easy to win”.
China responded by imposing its own tariffs on US goods and has complained to the WTO and threatened legal action, claiming unfair treatment.

‘Unmanageable escalation’

“The strong trade growth that we are seeing today will be vital for continued economic growth and recovery and to support job creation,” said Mr Azevedo, the WTO director-general.

“However, this important progress could be quickly undermined if governments resort to restrictive trade policies, especially in a tit-for-tat process that could lead to an unmanageable escalation.

“A cycle of retaliation is the last thing the world economy needs.”

He said that countries should show restraint and settle their differences “through dialogue” and collective action.

China has already announced retaliatory action against the US move, announcing tariffs of up to 25% on US imports such as pork, fruit, nuts and wine.

Despite growing fears over a global trade war between the world’s two largest economies, trade volume growth in 2017 hit 4.7%, the highest level since 2011.

Stronger world growth and increasing levels of consumption have driven the rise, which has helped, for example, the UK economy, where exports are valued at more than £600bn a year.

Tariff uncertainty

WTO economists said that 2018 should see trade growth expansion of about 4.4%, well above the post financial crisis average of 3%, though still below the 4.8% average seen in the 1990s.

The WTO annual trade report said risks were now “tilted to the downside” because of the uncertainty over tariff policy, which could affect business investment and that trade growth would slow to about 4% in 2019.

It also cautioned that central banks were looking to tighten monetary policy – for example, by raising interest rates – at a faster pace.

The Bank of England has already said that interest rates are set to rise more quickly than previously thought, with the next rise expected by the markets as early as next month.


 

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Author Kamal Ahmed 

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