Government to promote use of electronic document exchange system

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 May, 2001, 12:00am

Computers are now widely used in the commercial sector, but the exchange of commercial documents - quotations, orders and invoices - among trading partners still depend on conventional means such as despatch by hand, delivery by mail or transmission by fax.

There is an increasing demand for punctual delivery of commercial documents.

A new method to transmit documents electronically is becoming popular worldwide. The method is electronic data interchange (EDI).

EDI is the exchange of electronic information in agreed format between and among computers. It is a fast and accurate way of communication. Many developed economies are either implementing EDI systems or actively planning for it.

As EDI data are transmitted in a format for computer process ing, they can be input directly into the receiving system.

This greatly reduces the need for manual processing and errors.

Use of EDI will reduce transaction costs by cutting down the use of paper and labour costs. It will also shorten turnabout time for despatch or receipt of information.

Therefore, EDI can make business transaction procedures smoother, promoting more business opportunities.

The Government has taken the lead to develop a communication infrastructure to promote use of EDI in Hong Kong.

The first phase of the EDI project, which started in 1997, mainly covers the application for and delivery of the Restrained Textile Export Licence and the lodgement of trade declarations to the Government by traders.

Starting from April 2000, all trade declarations have had to be submitted to the Government through EDI.

In accordance with the Import and Export (Registration) Regulations, importers and exporters are required to lodge declarations with the Customs and Excise Department within 14 days after the importation or exportation of any goods other than exempted articles.

The trade declarations are subsequently forwarded to the Census and Statistics Depart ment for further processing. Based on that information, the SAR's external trade statistics are compiled.

Under the traditional paper trade declaration processing system, a large volume of paper was consumed and a lot of human resources from the traders and the Government, were involved in lodging, collecting, microfilming, sorting and checking trade declarations.

As a new development of the EDI project, an electronic manifest system to enable carriers and forwarding agents to submit cargo manifests through EDI is being developed. A pilot service will be launched towards the end of this year.

For more information on this series of articles, write to the General Statistics Branch (2) of the Census and Statistics Department, 21/F, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, or call 2582-4004. Address of the department's homepage is