Canada Border Service Agency has joined 94 organizations in a pilot program designed to ease global trade through blockchain technology.
The IBM and Maersk led program aims to create efficient and globally secure trading, which the Canadian government hopes will improve the quality and timeliness of commercial data, increase visibility of cargo movement past the first port of arrival, and reduce the number of transactions necessary to make a release decision for shipments.
“This development is an example of the Government of Canada using innovative technology to easily and securely facilitate trade and engage in global trading ecosystems in a modern, productive manner,” said John Ossowski, CBSA president.
TradeLens could create a singular, trusted digital supply chain for all shipments entering Canada. The TradeLens pilot gives us an opportunity to not only find process efficiencies and gain analytical insights, but improve data providence, accuracy, and targeting capabilities. The end result may be a faster and more reliable national supply chain, which could positively impact Canada’s economic output.”
On an average day, the CBSA processes more than 58,600 commercial releases; 14,400 trucks; 240,000 mail items; and 127,400 courier shipments totaling $88.2 million in duty and taxes. The TradeLens software has to date captured more than 200 million events and is growing by one million events per day.
“Our goal is to play a leading role with all members of the World Customs Organization to help them attain faster processing of global trade data into a more effective, simplified structure and process that addresses their current challenges and future needs to improve the customer experience,” said Mike White, who leads TradeLens for Maersk.
TradeLens participants can track critical import and export data in real-time with a secure, non-repudiable audit trail. The software is hosted on IBM Cloud and built on industry standards. The software has to date reduced transit time of shipments in the United States by 40%.
We believe blockchain can play an integral role in digitizing and reinventing shipping for agencies like the Canada Border Services Agency, who are responsible for moving nearly 500,000 commercial transactions safely across Canadian borders daily. TradeLens provides a common approach to building a strong, secure and connected digital trade network that benefits all participants equally,” said IBM Canada president Ayman Antoun.
“Our work with Maersk and other enterprises in the shipping ecosystem has shown that blockchain can be used to transform a vital part of how global trade is conducted as members like the CBSA and Port of Montreal begin to interact more efficiently, securely sharing important transactions through real-time access to shipping data and shipping documents.”

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