Cross-border trade: PortNet stands out as a key player

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Digital is at the center of the new challenges of cross-border trade. It is in this sense that the 8th edition of the International Conference of One-Stop Shops was held in Marrakech, from September 26 to 28, 2022, under the central theme “One-stop shops of the future at the heart of digital transformation and fluidification of cross-border trade”.

Organized by PortNet SA, in partnership with the ANP and the AACE, this conference brought together several international experts from various backgrounds, decision-makers, business leaders, and players in the international trade ecosystem. This conference made it possible to lay the foundations for a new impetus for the digital transformation and the fluidification of cross-border trade in Africa and was an opportunity to focus on the major trends in the sector, thus aimed at improving the business climate. African. Digital transformation, use of technologies, regional and international interoperability, Data, innovation & technologies, Trade finance & electronic payment, smart ports… so many topics were discussed during this international meeting. Major topics due to the post-Covid context marked by disruptions in global supply chains and a profound transformation of international trade.

New growth avenues for intra-African trade

During the opening session of this meeting, Nizar Baraka, Minister of Equipment and Water, immediately stated: “Digitalization is a powerful tool for resilience and an undeniable lever for economic competitiveness. Indeed, the countries that have best resisted this crisis are those that were ahead in this area”. It must be said that Morocco has made significant progress in terms of digital transformation. Equipped with more than 120 100% digital community solutions bringing real added value to more than 59,000 users from different backgrounds, the Single Window PortNet is part of this momentum. “With integrated end-to-end coverage of the foreign trade supply chain, PortNet offers the various players concerned the tools necessary for anticipation, proactivity, cost control, and of course traceability. On the operational level, the implementation of the one-stop shop has resulted in substantial gains in terms of quality of service, particularly at the level of the ports which carry 98% of our trade. Thus the residence time of containers, for example, has been reduced to less than 7 days”.

The Minister also explained that several African countries are part of the same dynamic of progress with ecosystems with global reach but, according to him, “the challenge today is to capitalize on the successful experiences at the level of our continent and to ‘accelerate continental coordination in this area to explore new sources of growth through the fluidification of intra-African trade’. In this scheme, digitalization would make it possible to accelerate Zlecaf projects, which open up new prospects for boosting intra-African trade. Citing a 2021 study by UNCTAD on maritime transport, he points out that the African Continental Free Trade Area could improve intra-African trade by up to 33% and reduce the trade deficit by 51%.

Position yourself well in the face of new challenges

For his part, Ryad Mezzour, Minister of Industry and Trade, set the scene by describing the current new paradigms of world trade, speaking in particular of “disguised protectionism”. “We have gone from globalization and the fluidification of exchanges to a kind of restriction of geographic value chains”, alluding to “nearshoring” and “friend-shoring”. For him, the question is how to manage the new situation of international trade in a context where Morocco is positioned as a hub and as a country that has built its economy to be a link between the North and the South and be a major player in South-South co-development. Ryad Mezzour highlighted the new era of digitization, data, and flow control (in cross-border management) as well as artificial intelligence. These elements will make it possible to understand and analyze new trends to better position themselves.
For his part, Ghita Mezzour, Minister Delegate in charge of the digital transition and administrative reform, recalled that “digitalization takes an important place in the new development model” thus establishing itself as an essential and promising component for all sectors. of activities. “PortNet is one of the finest achievements in the field of digital transition in Morocco and on the African continent,” said the minister, noting also the government’s commitment to support the digital shift and cooperate with African countries in this area. For her part, Nadia Laraki, Director General of the ANP, emphasized the interest of community systems through what they can bring as a catalyst, especially in particular contexts such as the one experienced by the world during the two years past.

PortNet continues to grow

PortNet has reached several milestones. What the CEO of the ANP did not fail to point out: “The PortNet one-stop shop is no longer what it was 6 years ago. It has since evolved considerably to become almost essential. PortNet has also matured and grown within other port community system one-stop shops. A member of the African e-commerce alliance, PortNet has evolved by opening up to African national and international ecosystems”. In addition, the pandemic crisis has acted as an accelerator for the digitalization of foreign trade processes. “If today the Moroccan and African ports are showing good performance and are among the world champions, I remain convinced that in these exploits, digital technology is a major contributor”, she argues. In terms of innovation, the ANP has adopted a new model of open innovation whose objective would be to extend to other partners in African countries. It should be noted that at the end of this meeting, a white paper containing recommendations will be adopted. On its basis will be broken down the actions to be followed during the next years for the sector. As for the President of the AACE, Amos Wangora, the company PortNet, which represents one of the most successful and efficient one-stop shops at the continental and global levels, has always accompanied this African alliance for the realization of its missions.

In this sense, he pointed out that the AACE, which has 19 members, has contributed a lot to the promotion of intra-African trade, reviewing some programs of this African organization aimed at supporting the digital transition of the countries of the continent. Speaking at this event, the Managing Director of PortNet, Youssef Ahouzi, noted that the holding of this conference in Morocco testifies to the efforts made by PortNet SA to strengthen regional and international integration. He returned to the formalities and procedures of international trade which have been positively impacted by technological innovations, ensuring that single windows have an important role in the fluidification of national economies as well as world trade.

According to the organizers of this event, the holding of the 8th International Conference of Single Windows in Marrakech, for the second time after the success of the 2016 edition in ocher city, is part of the African commitment of Morocco to the emergence of a modern, competitive and prosperous African economy. The symposium serves as a platform for interactive discussions centered around the unified portal notion, striving to unite diverse global sectors. It endeavors to assemble various corners of the globe, drawing insights from nations well-versed in this domain, those aspiring to initiate their own streamlined portal initiatives, as well as entities championing the implementation of such platforms, accompanied by the expertise of global authorities. It should be noted that the first edition of the International Conference on Single Windows was organized in Dakar in 2008 while the last one was held in 2019 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.