TradeLens is a digital alliance among container shipping lines started by the teaming up of Maersk and IBM to offer customers digital freight solutions..
Touted as an open and neutral industry platform underpinned by Blockchain technology, Tradelens is supported by major industry players such as Maersk, Zim Lines, PIL, CMA CGM, MSC, Hapag Lloyd and ONE..
This platform received a major boost on the 23rd of December 2019 when The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) published “The TradeLens Agreement” which “authorizes the parties to cooperate with respect to the provision of data to a blockchain-enabled, global trade digitized solution that will enable shippers, authorities and other stakeholders to exchange information on supply chain events and documents.”
CMA CGM, Maersk, Hapag Lloyd, MSC and ONE have been listed as the Parties to the Agreement whereas IBM and Maersk GTD Inc have been named as Platform Providers..
This agreement allows The Parties and the Platform Providers to discuss and agree the terms and conditions surrounding the provision of data to the Platform alongwith permitted uses of the data, storage, protection, any input into the products and services offered on the Platform and the marketing of these products and services..
This agreement also allows both sides to discuss and agree the terms, conditions and use of electronic bills of lading including blockchain based bills of lading..
The agreement however is quite clear that the Parties may NOT discuss or agree on any commercial activity such as vessel capacities deployed, conditions under which any of the Parties provide shipping services to its customers, the rates, charges or other terms and conditions between any of the Parties to the agreement and its customers..
While the Platform Providers will maintain and operate the platform, the Agreement itself will be administered by The Parties through working committees or groups which may or may not include the Platform Providers..
While the agreement authorises the cooperation of the various stakeholders in the provision of data to a blockchain-enabled digital trade solution, the Platform will
- provide APIs for the publication of data which will include the monitoring and reporting of the physical progress of cargo through the supply chain including documentation related to the shipments ;
- store such documents both in a structured and unstructured form while sharing it with relevant parties in the supply chain who have the permission
It has been reported that the FMC has allowed interested parties to submit comments to them before the 13th of January 2020 and it is expected that the Agreement will become effective from the 6th of February 2020 unless it is blocked by the FMC due to any objections or otherwise..
As I mentioned in my previous article introducing the Digital Shipping Line and also in my Shipping and Freight Review of 2019, there is a hope and ambition that the carriers will start using digital standards and align their businesses to it when implementing digitalisation and standardization initiatives in the industry in the future..
The filing of this TradeLens Agreement marks an important milestone in the entrenchment of blockchain and digital technology in global shipping heralding the age of digital cooperation between carriers, platform providers and customers to work toward achieving real economies of scale..