China Customs: New science and tech accelerate customs clearance
A China-Europe freight train sets off from Shenyang. (photo by CHINA DAILY)

Entering the customs supervision workplace of a logistics center in Shenyang, Liaoning province, visitors could see a white drone parking on the top of the containers.

Two customs officers pressed the remote control, and the drone jumped into the air, and flew forward with a buzz.

The camera on the plane scanned the controlled container, and the customs supervision information such as container number and seal status is at a glance.

The application of scientific and technological methods has accelerated the speed of customs clearance and saved enterprises on costs, local officials said.

“In the past, all the customs seal verification work for our containers required manual operations,” said Bai Dawei, a corporate customers broker. “However, if the containers were located in the middle or high-rise buildings, 7 or 8 meters above the ground, they needed to be hoisted to complete the operation. It would incur a certain amount of lifting costs.”

When the drone meets the container, the China-Europe freight train is like being plugged in “invisible wings”, and the efficiency has been largely improved, he said.

“With the drone, the collection and distribution process of our freight trains is faster, the loops for unloading boxes in the field are saved and the time for seal checking is also shortened.”

In addition to the supervision of goods, the introduction of drones can also patrol key areas of surveillance sites and regional fences, which can improve the accuracy of supervision and save operating resources.

“Especially during the epidemic, drone supervision can reduce the contact between operators and incoming containers and goods. It can also reduce the risk of spreading the virus,” said Wang Zhenke, deputy commissioner of Liaozhong Customs in Shenyang. Wang added that the efficiency of customs clearance has also been improved.

Shenyang Customs has been committed to continuously optimizing the port business environment of the trains, reducing the time for overall customs clearance and sorting out the original supervision procedures, local officials said.

It has launched a series of measures such as the application of commercial seals for the supervision of export goods, expansion of inspection areas and reduction of inspection time.

Wang added that companies can now apply commercial seals before the containers enter the site.

“Customs officers conduct random checks on the results of the seals. The freight collection and distribution of the trains is faster. The ring of unloading containers in the site is saved, and the seals are eliminated. The verification time has also been shortened.”

The further release of technological empowerment superimposed on the self-supervisory control capabilities of enterprises has allowed customs brokers to feel the dividends brought about by the transformation of the customs clearance process.

Except for special circumstances, the utilization rate of commercial seals has reached 100 percent. It is estimated that the average lifting cost of outbound China-Europe freight trains can save 7,000 yuan ($1,080) per train.

On May 31, a train full of auto parts and mechanical equipment left Shenyang East Railway Station, the newly opened China-Europe train via Horgos Port.

As a logistics hub in Northeast China, Shenyang has a well-developed and stable railway transportation network, and the customs clearance of trains is both smooth and barrier-free.

The opening of Horgos Port is complementary to the inbound and outbound routes of Shenyang via Manzhouli, Suifenhe, Erenhot and other ports that have already been opened, which expands the space for enterprises to choose.

“We strive to create a diversified and three-dimensional platform. The simultaneous operation of four ports has greatly improved the efficiency of delivery and saved transportation time,” said Zhou Hao director of the land transportation division of Sinotrans’ brand in Northeast China.

“Enterprises can flexibly choose port stations based on the destination of the goods, while also increasing the turnover rate of goods, and reducing the transportation costs for customers.” Shenyang Customs has opened up the “green channel” for the first train, and the on-site customs implements around-the-clock appointment clearance to realize that the group of goods is “checked on arrival and released when qualified”, further reducing the customs clearance time.