The way forward: implementing digital consignment notes (e-CMR) | IRU

The IRU brought together regulators and industry leaders to exchange ideas, challenges and examples of implementing and developing e-CMR solutions.

As countries continue to adhere to the e-CMR protocol and begin to implement it, the IRU organized a workshop with government authorities and the private sector to discuss challenges, opportunities and best practices to advance e-CMR solutions.

Consignment notes under the United Nations Convention for the Carriage of Goods (CMR) are mainly used for commercial transport contract purposes. They are also often used by law enforcement and customs authorities to verify information about goods and shippers/receivers/carriers in cross-border trade.

The digital version of the CMR consignment note, the e-CMR protocol, has been in place since 2008 and is now ratified by 32 countries. By eliminating paperwork, e-CMR solutions reduce processing costs, eliminate administrative and invoicing delays, and reduce discrepancies at delivery sites.

“In the near future, no truck should stop at borders”

The two-hour workshop featured succinct presentations from seven external speakers, including industry leaders, regulators and policy makers.

Konstantinos Alexopoulos, Head of Transport and Economic Facilitation Section at UNECE, kicked off the workshop with a simple message: “in the near future, no truck should stop at borders”.

He went on to add that the operationalization of e-CMR should follow the provisions of the CMR and its e-CMR protocol, which means that it should be international, sustainable and accepted by all contracting parties.

Asset Assavbayev, Secretary General of the PS IGC TRACECA, pointed out that several members of the Europe Caucasus Asia transport corridor are interested in e-CMR solutions.

Konstantinos Alexopoulos and Asset Assavbayev highlighted the importance of testing e-CMR solutions.

Dieter Sellner, head of digital transformation at DB Schenker, pointed out that eliminating paperwork will reduce operating costs. Together with Andreas Nettstrater, CEO of Open Logistics Foundation, they presented a proposal for creating open source solutions. Andreas Nettstrater also noted the importance of aligning legislators and the private sector.

To further flesh out the discussion, Hélène Kerjean, Supply Chain Product Marketing Manager at AKANEA, shared an example of e-CMR mobilization on the French market, with a view to extending their solution to other markets.

On the other hand, Antonia Ferrari, Key Account Manager at Torello, expressed concern that Italy has not yet ratified the CMR protocol, given the importance of sustainability and digital solutions for the transport sector.

Finally, André Simha, Global Chief Digital & Information Officer of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, stressed that the solutions must be interoperable. He also highlighted the value of electronic documentation for international trade and the importance of cybersecurity and governance.

All the speakers agreed that it is necessary and beneficial to develop as quickly as possible a global approach to e-CMR, technologically neutral, interoperable, harmonized and secure.

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