The Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union (ЕАЕU), which entered into force on I January 2018, prioritized electronic customs declarations. However, most trade supporting documents (TSDs) used for customs clearance remain in paper form due to various reasons, such as legal issues and national features of TSD workflow within the common customs territory. Unfortunately, the failure to embrace electronic documents is counter to the modern digital world and not efficient for international trade.
The aim of this study is, therefore, to review the current practices of EAEU member States and their business approaches for submitting TSDs to customs authorities, identify possible business models for advancing TSD digitalization in EAEU, and propose standard-based and alternative innovative business models and possible practical solutions that could spur the transition of economic operators in the countries of EAEU to submitting documents electronically.
To clearly identify the objective of the study, all existing TSDs were determined and grouped. Legal aspects of TSD workflow regulations in the EAEU were reviewed as a basis for making assessments, comparisons, and perspective proposals. Advantages and disadvantages of the EAEU member-States' business models and business needs in TSD digitalization were revealed. Trends and innovative business models for TSD digitalization were described and analyzed from the perspective that one would be practical within EAEU. Proposed solutions discussed in this paper are based on the UN/CEFACT data model, e-data convertor, a data pipeline concept, EDI based on artificial intelligence, IoT solutions, and open trade blockchain data.
Results of the assessment showed that more active and efficient steps should be taken to facilitate TSD digitalization in all of the EAEU member-States and to align the levels of the trade environment for digitalization in general. The electronic TSD models can help avoid the need to manually convert and rekey data, and for physical contacts between participants and ultimately speed up supply chains without disrupting the existing information systems of the EAEU member states. One key recommendation for this transition is for regulators, such as the Eurasian Economic Commission, the EAEU member-States Governments and stakeholders to coordinate their efforts and make them more comprehensive.
Accordingly, TSD digitization is an important and necessary step towards achieving cross-border paperless trade. Currently, there are several models for the transition to electronic documents and data in the course of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) interactions.
However, an issue still remains on how to facilitate implementation of TSD models among the business community and government agencies in practice. In this regard, the accession of countries to the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific will contribute to promoting the TSD digitalization approaches described in the study.