Technology enabling trade innovation

05 June 2012 | Ludo De Bock, Corporate Senior Director, Global Strategic Accounts

​Global trade is an important part of every country’s economic development plan. When many people think about trade policy and priorities they often think of things like free trade agreements and enterprise zones, subsidies and tariffs. While getting these policies right is rightly a focus, just as important to supporting robust trade and ensuring national competitiveness is implementing the right technology to help facilitate and maximize international commerce.

This week at the World Custom Organisation’s annual IT Conference and Exhibition in Tallinn, Estonia, I’m here alongside 450 other delegates from over 100 countries representing Microsoft and talking about some of the solutions we’ve developed with our partners that help governments and companies deliver real impact. The choice of Tallinn is especially appropriate as in October 2011, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) ranked Estonia as having the third best in the world in terms of ease of trade across borders in its annual Doing Business report.

Last year at the conference in Seattle, we announced the innovative Trans-Kalahari Corridor project with our partners USAID, AECOM and the governments of Namibia and Botswana.

The TKC project offers many features that enable faster and safer trade in the region – while ensuring the security of sensitive data. One notable feature is the use of cloud technology to connect the existing customs management systems of Namibia and Botswana. The use of the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform enables each country to continue using their own systems unchanged, often costly in terms of both financing and labor to replace. Trade data from Namibia to Botswana and vice versa is exchanged cross border via the cloud – with data storage and retention remaining strictly in the control of national authorities.

Also with us here in Tallinn is our partner GAINDE 2000 who was recently selected as a first place winner in the 2012 United Nations Public Service Awards for “Improving the Delivery of Public Services” through their electronic single window.

GAINDE 2000’s single window interconnects all the administrative bodies involved in the processing of import/export formalities and enables declarants to lodge their requests through a single electronic form – dramatically easing the customs process for importers, exporters, customs authorities and other stakeholders in the trade and customs system. GAINDE 2000 will be presented with the award later this month at the 2012 United Nations Public Service Day Awards Ceremony and Forum, in New York from June 25-27, 2012.

These examples are just some of the successes we’re excited to share this year in Tallinn. Every year this event is a great reminder of the important role technology plays in supporting customs and trade, a great driver of economic growth, providing concrete examples of how business and government alike can benefit from innovations like single windows and cloud computing.

Come see us if you are attending the event. If not, visit our website for more information on our customs solutions and partners.

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Ludo De Bock
Corporate Senior Director, Global Strategic Accounts

About the Author

Ludo De Bock | Corporate Senior Director, Global Strategic Accounts

With nearly 30 years of experience in the ICT industry, Ludo leads Microsoft’s engagement with multilateral organizations across the globe, including the European Union and NATO. Since 1999, he has served on Microsoft’s strategy group for eGovernment.