A Window on Tomorrow

Challenges to international trade

The challenges of sustaining and optimizing the flow of international trade are manifold, and certain requirements are common to each stage of the logistics process.

One noteworthy consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic was the knock-on economic effect of microchip shortages. It underlined the wider risk to industry of the weaker links in the global supply chain. Yet, the year-round challenges faced by the logistics industry reach far beyond biology. In fact, ongoing advances in digitalized processes and data generation in the logistics ecosystem are symptomatic of a wider pan-sector trend.

The Challenges
PwC studies reveal that as the world edges toward the efficiencies of Industry 4.0, its adoption is by no means universal, with consequences for laggard firms’ competitiveness across the supply chain. Given the interconnectedness that defines global commerce, it is telling that just 10% of transport and logistics companies view their data-related operations as mature. The world at large runs on actionable data. And logistics, the lifeblood of industry and economy, benefits hugely from streamlined processes, and compliance with international standards, achievable with data-driven and real time information in the digital environment. Until relatively recently, the shipping ecosystem had been fraught with lengthy manual procedures, permit seeking, and cargo processing. What’s more, links in the chain were not efficiently communicating standardized workable data on shipping and settlement, extending delivery times. At stake, therefore, were firms’ control over their shipping activities on the brutally competitive global stage.

So What’s the Solution?
In Morocco’s case, the answer is the National Single Window for Foreign Trade Procedures (PortNet), today itself a catalyst of digital adoption. Its job is to establish lasting connections between the components of the port ecosystem, such as logistics firms, and foster innovation through smart solutions and training of member companies. It seems we could not anticipate the pandemic. Yet ultimately anticipation allows strategic planning.

Quite a View
PORTNET.S.A’s game-changing pilot project—the prototype of its Single Window, came out in 2011 to digitalize ship call documents at the Port of Casablanca. This national initiative also exemplifies the win-win of public-private partnerships (PPP). PortNet currently offers 120 digital solutions to over 55,000 users in both public and private sectors; an ecosystem that features over 20 banks and 300 freight forwarders.
Since its inception in 2012, then, PortNet has been the engine of Morocco’s National Single Window streamlining and standardizing all port and trade procedures to maximize national competitiveness. The initiative embodies the competitive advantages of dematerialization across the logistics chain. The single window built around standardized information and documentation at a single point of entry simplifies and automates all stages of import, export and transit.

Information overload is as detrimental to workflows as data deficiency. And so PORTNET.SA’s single platform keeps data sharing to the bare minimum required for the transactions at hand. Training provided also addresses clients’ requirements relative to their place in the logistics ecosystem. And meanwhile, PortNet’s use of enterprise resource planning (ERP)—business process management software—responds to the challenge of departmental interconnectedness, digitally integrating a client’s finance, supply chain, operations, commerce, reporting, manufacturing, and human resources processes. PORTNET.S.A works closely with The Moroccan Exporters Association (ASMEX) on the Trade Sense community platform. Ultimately, such activities yield optimal solutions to transversal problems, raising international competitiveness.

Select Informational Landmarks
Reflecting the new normal of the pandemic, in 2019 PORTNET.S.A launched an online subscription to its services, featuring electronic appointment booking for the exit of containers. A year later PORTNET.S.A launched its PortNet bot virtual assistant, operational around the clock. And then in 2021 the organization gave the foreign trade community from freight forwarders and handling operators to testing facilities, shipping companies, and public administrations access to multi-channel payment. Notable, too, is PortNet’s KPI business intelligence platform, which enables the creation of dashboards for 360-degree monitoring of actionable data on foreign trade activity, enhancing the decision-making process. In September 2021, and in a first for Morocco, PORTNET.S.A held a pioneering Digital Meeting in cooperation with the National Ports Agency (ANP) and the Digital Development Agency (ADD). It addressed the challenge of innovating for competitiveness and national development. On the fringes PORTNET.S.A signed a cooperation agreement with ADD on accelerating digital transformation and promoting the competitiveness of Morocco’s trade ecosystem.

From Regional Challenges to Opportunities
In 2021, PORTNET.S.A inked a framework partnership agreement in Tangier with The Tangier-Tétouan-Al Hoceima Regional Investment Center (CRI) to boost regional logistic competitiveness. The initiative, emphasizing community intelligence across regional ecosystems, reflected Morocco’s New Development Model
In conclusion, the competitiveness of the logistics sector is clear from the following numbers. Despite being an up-and-coming regional force, the World Bank Logistics Performance Index 2018 places Morocco 109th out of 160 countries. PORTNET.S.A’s mission is to deliver an upward thrust.

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