The story of how 10 Southeast Asian nations banded together to supercharge intraregional trade by building faster, more efficient electronic customs processes is a testament to the transformative power of digital platforms.
With the help of Axway’s B2B Integration platform, ASEAN replaced slow and costly customs processes with a digital platform, enabling member states to exchange rapidly cross-border cargo documentation.
Manual processes drive up costs
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), founded in 1967, brings together ten member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam) to reward intraregional trade through preferential tariffs for nearly all locally sourced goods.
But before the early 2000s, these tariffs depended heavily on manual, paper-based processes to demonstrate that products were produced in the region. This made shipping expensive and complex, leading to human error. If paperwork or key documents were missing, containers often needed to be held in port for up to 14 days.
In order to meet its goals of accelerating economic growth, social progress, and cultural development through regional collaboration, ASEAN needed an integrated, automated approach.
The solution: Axway B2B Integration
The intergovernmental association came to call this approach the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), and ASEAN chose to build its pilot project on the Axway B2B Integration platform.
Axway came to this project not just as an IT vendor, but as a company that understands how customs and clearance processes work, enriched with its extensive experience in powering global supply chains.
Axway worked with ASEAN to deploy B2B gateways at the National Single Window (NSW) of each member state, creating a link between the 10 NSWs for document exchange.
The platform also links to the central ASW platform — hosted in the organization’s regional center in Jakarta, Indonesia — for tracking and recordkeeping.
The Axway solution offered a high level of security and full, end-to-end visibility of B2B transactions on the platform, meeting the organization’s stringent requirements around data governance and information security.
Additionally, the pilot project was an unqualified success, proving ASW could support “exactly once” message delivery via HTTP(s) web services based on SOAP or REST APIs.
An experienced partner, ready to scale
Because several companies in the region were already using Axway B2B Integration, ASEAN leaders felt confident it would be able to scale rapid growth.
The next step was to move to full-scale implementation of the ASW on Axway B2B Integration across all 10 member states. To streamline the project, Axway partnered with PT Electronic Data Interchange Indonesia (EDII) — a company with extensive experience around paperless, cross-border information exchange.
Since the ASW went live, more than 900,000 Certificates of Origin have been exchanged digitally. Many of the ASEAN countries are now enabling frictionless trade of locally produced goods — minimizing the time required to clear containers through customs and onwards to their destination.
Cargo release time has been cut in half for ASEAN-originating containers, with even greater anticipated returns once the move to paperless is complete.
From increasing efficiency to unlocking opportunity
As member states have gradually embraced a common header concept for all trade documents being exchanged between ASW gateways, Axway has helped enhance the ASW to support a common message implementation framework for other types of cross-border documents as well.
Now that it has successfully tackled inefficiencies and continues to streamline processes, ASEAN is exploring bigger possibilities. Leaders hope to build an international gateway, which would empower member states to integrate seamlessly with trading partners in North America, Europe, China, and beyond.
Thanks to Axway B2B Integration’s support of large-scale, mission-critical document interchange, ASEAN is secure in knowing its platform will continue to accommodate rapid growth in transaction volumes and help the organization meet its long-term objectives.
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