EDI brings exporters and customs on-line
Macau has launched its first electronic data interchange message through its local VAN (value-added network) after six months' preparation.
The Macau EDI pilot scheme, which is similar to Hong Kong's Tradelink service, involves three phases of development.
Last week a simple ceremony was held to celebrate the historic moment and inaugurate the EDI project.
The first phase of the Macau EDI pilot scheme will involve six participating exporters sending export applications via EDI to the Economic Services Department.
The department will send back the approved licences to the computer systems of the exporters and the marine police.
After the goods have been cleared, the marine police will send the cleared export licences through EDI back to the exporter, the department and to the Statistics Services Department.
During the second phase of the project, the exporters will send the approved licences electronically to their carriers for export-shipping arrangements.
Banks will be involved in the third phase, which will include the Economic Services Department sending EDI messages to the exporters' bank to deduct the fees for the certificate of origin from the exporters' account.
The EDI pilot office of the Macau Productivity and Technology Transfer Centre said some Macau organisations had adopted EDI technology two years ago.
However, they had faced paying long-distance phone charges to connect to overseas VANs, so the cost was relatively high.
The pilot office said the local VAN would not only reduce the cost but also provide private organisations with an opportunity to connect to the government sectors.
The mode of imports and exports would be affected in the long run, it said.
Hong Kong already has announced that no paper applications will be accepted after March 2000, when all import and export applications have to be done by EDI.
The United States Customs has been investigating the possibility of importing countries sending electronic visas to its computer system.
Following the success of the electronic visas, the US service plans to accept only electronic visas in the future.
The pilot office said it was essential for Macau to adopt EDI to increase its productivity and competitiveness, and also improve its international image.
EDI had been adopted by the US and European countries about 10 years ago.
At first it was used only for business but was extended later to include customs applications.