FEDERAL Express has become the first express operator in China to be linked electronically with customs offices. The EDI (electronic data interchange) link-up in Shanghai makes shipment information available for customs review before the it arrives at the airport. This can cut days off the customs clearance process, ensuring that Federal Express customers get their shipments much faster, according to Jim Wheeler, Federal Express vice-president, global customs services. Wu Hua Ding, Shanghai Deputy Director for Customs added: ''Hongqiao airport now has world-class customs clearance procedures for express shipments. Importers can be confident that their shipments will be handled in a professional and timely manner.'' For high-value shipments with proper documentation, clearance is expected to improve by a minimum of one day. Previously, clearance took three to four days. For low-value shipments, customs clearance can be two days quicker. EDI pre-clearance is available in Shanghai exclusively to those shipping with Federal Express. Similar link-ups are being developed with Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Federal Express has worked closely with customs departments throughout the world to develop procedures that allow pre-filing of documentation electronically. Similar programmes have been established with customs officials in Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Australia. The programme in Shanghai has been under development for nearly a year, when China customs officials from several gateway cities travelled to Federal Express' US hub in Memphis Tennessee, to see the procedures and technology in action. Teams of engineers and customs experts then co-ordinated efforts to make the link-up possible in China, first in Shanghai. Federal Express serves 18 cities in China, through its agent Sinotrans, and more than 187 countries worldwide. The company provides fast and reliable services for important documents, packages and freight. The company delivers more than two million items each day. It employs more than 99,000 staff and operates 456 aircraft and 31,000 vehicles in its integrated system. Federal Express reported revenues of US$7.8 billion for the fiscal year ended May 31, 1993.