Background: eManifest (electronic manifest) is an initiative designed to establish advance electronic information requirements in the highway and rail modes of transportation, and to build upon existing advance commercial information requirements for goods in the marine and air modes. eManifest would ensure a paperless process, which starts before any goods reach the Canadian border, for commercial importations in all modes of transportation
CS: Canada Border Services Agency published a document this February in the Canada Gazette on “Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Customs Act”. What was your impression of the cost analysis provided, and estimates about the potential savings and benefits around eManifest?
Wark: In reviewing the cost/benefit analysis, it is difficult to evaluate what benefits and savings this initiative will produce, as we are in the early stages of eManifest roll-out. Currently, we are focused on making the necessary IT infrastructure changes, as well as the analysis, development and implementation of new processes needed to support eManifest implementation. However, we believe the cost analysis presented in the Canada Gazette is reasonable.
Preparation for eManifest has required time, effort and research in advance of the coming changes, and FedEx Trade Networks believes these investments will ultimately benefit our customers.
Automation initiatives, such as eManifest, are probably inevitable in our industry, as our customers seek more information and quicker transaction times. As such, FedEx Trade Networks welcomes this initiative. We have been committed to technological innovation for more than 40 years, and we will continue to advocate measures aimed at facilitating trade.
CS: Can you provide a sense of the time and costs industry faces in terms of getting up to speed on the requirements of eManifest and what is the perceived ROI around it?
Wark: Again, it is difficult to put a dollar figure on the cost or estimate an ROI around the deployment of eManifest at this early stage; however, the investment in this initiative, as well as in Single Window and CARM, will be significant and the ROI will not realized for some time. Each stakeholder’s cost will vary, depending on the size and scope of their operations
FedEx Trade Networks is working hard to have work flow processes and customer services prepared prior to the deployment of these new CBSA initiatives. We believe “early adoption” will benefit our customers. And while these are Canadian regulatory initiatives, there is a huge international component here; so it’s important that our staff not only in Canada know about eManifest, but also for our staff based in other countries around the world.
CS: Looking at the various programs you’ve had to become familiar with, is there a particular program more than another that has provided the most challenges?
Wark: eManifest will likely have the biggest impact, because it reaches all stakeholders within the trade chain. It is challenging because there are so many elements to the program: the new highway and rail carrier cargo and conveyance data electronic reporting feature, the electronic house bill data reporting requirements for freight forwarders and the new advance trade data reporting requirements for importers to consider, all of which are being deployed at different times.
The goal for our industry is to transmit accurate data to the CBSA at the right time. As a customs brokerage house and freight forwarder, this is of particular significance because we want a process whereby our trade chain partners (both within Canada and globally) can work together to communicate shipment activity collectively and efficiently.
To achieve our goal, we have to do both back-end work, including the adjustment and adaptation of our information technology, as well as the front-end preparation that includes providing information to our stakeholders (e.g. customers) in the supply chain, so they know how and when to complete their electronic submissions to the CBSA.
CS: What has been the most helpful approach for you in getting up to speed on these initiatives?
Wark: In terms of our approach, our goal is to have our work flow processes and customer services prepared prior to the deployment of these new CBSA initiatives so we can continue to provide top-level service to our customers.
We have been proactive in our preparation, working to have our systems ready and our people and customers properly informed and prepared to comply with the new CBSA rules and regulations.
One of the challenges for our company, and the industry at large, is that these initiatives (eManifest, Single Window and CARM) are being deployed simultaneously. We have to verify that our process changes work with each new regulation and do not conflict with other pre-existing rules and/or regulations.
FedEx Trade Networks has created a number of project teams to prepare for these new regulations with representation and engagement from almost every department. However, IT and Operations are taking the largest roles.
Each initiative and component has its own set of challenges for adoption. We have been looking at each segment of eManifest, CARM and Single Window on its own merit to gauge their impact. Then, we’ve looked at them together to see how all the components fit together in a cohesive and smooth manner. The considerations we’ve identified include the following:
Operations - reviewing the change in rules, understanding the changes and implications of them and changing or adapting any necessary work flows and processes.
Human Resources - changing and/or creating job descriptions.
Training – Training affected staff (in Canada and internationally) that will deal with the new regulations.
Business IT analysis – determining the business requirements and then mapping out existing computer processes and developing new ones.
IT programming – creating and testing new computer processes ahead of deployment dates.
Legal – determining what services the Government of Canada authorizes us to provide to our customers.
Communications – informing customers, suppliers, and other key stakeholders of the changes and details on our new services and processes.
FedEx works to educate customers on the processes involved in crossing borders through seminars and other educational sessions, and we will continue to develop solutions that make compliance easier. To date, we have held one customer information session in Toronto on CARM and three customer information sessions (in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver) on eManifest.
In the future, and up through deployment, we plan to host more information sessions in major centres, as well as webinars for customers unable to attend in person.
FedEx Trade Networks is committed to assisting customers in their compliance efforts. To date, we have created solutions for the highway component of eManifest, which has yet to become a mandatory requirement. This allows truckers to transmit eManifest electronically, in advance of arrival, which is allowing for faster customs clearance.
Once the advance trade data component is deployed, we will be offering new solutions for our customers, which we anticipate will help them comply with the new eManifest regulatory requirements. We are currently ironing out the details so that these two service solutions will be ready once the advance trade data component of eManifest is ready for use.
CS: What do you think of the government’s proposed Performance Report Card as a way of ensuring compliance amongst stakeholders?
Wark: To the extent the CBSA can track progress in compliance and report that data back to industry, CBSA will be helping ensure compliance amongst stakeholders. However, we do not believe administrative monetary penalties should be used in a punitive manner.
CS: Do you see progress being made in advancing the goal of defining: “specific roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for each stakeholder in the trade chain continuum”?
Wark: There will be progress due to the implementation of these three government initiatives, particularly eManifest. The CBSA, by creating new rules and regulations, has defined ownership of, and responsibility and accountability for, the data by all stakeholders. This move aims not only to ensure the data the agency receives is consistent, but also to help the CBSA in their effort to mitigate risk.
CS: Are these new initiatives, on a broad scale, the right thing for the logistics industry?
Wark: Since the attacks of September 11, 2011, security at the Canada-US border has become increasingly stringent. This increased security is important to help ensure the safety of Canadians and Americans. However, a side effect has been long delays at border crossings. FedEx Trade Networks believes these initiatives should ease border bottlenecks and allow customs work to be processed quickly, without compromising security, health or safety. We also support the use of technologies that move inspections away from the border crossings to eliminate bottlenecks.
Many current government policies and processes are not synchronized to efficiently meet the demands of today’s global shippers. Therefore, it is our hope that these new rules and regulations will help minimize international trade challenges because our primary interest is to promote the interests of our customers.
CS: How do you feel about the Government of Canada synchronizing standards with other nations?
Wark: FedEx Trade Networks has a long record of helping businesses overcome obstacles to international trade. We believe that the free flow of goods is essential in today’s global economy. As such, we support regulatory cooperation among governments within North America and around the world. We believe it is essential for governments to work together to ensure the compatibility of new regulations while reducing unnecessary differences in existing rules and standards.