25 Jun
CCES and Change

In 2005 the Centre for Customs and Excise Studies embarked on a game-changing strategy for enhancing the performance of the World’s border and trade management business. The three pronged approach consisted of (a) the development of professional standards for senior managers (achieved with the World Customs Organization through the Picard Standards), (b) a global higher education programme (achieved through the Network of Customs Universities, including Charles Sturt) and the publication of academic and practical experience and research (achieved through the World Customs Journal). 

Part of the higher education programme, delivered on-line by Charles Sturt University, as part of the Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences, are the subjects of Supply Chain Security (part of the Bachelor of Border Management) and International Supply Chain Management (part of the Master of Customs administration).

Much of the material for both subjects stem from the knowledge and research of those within the Centre for Customs and Excise Studies as well the myriad lessons learned from the World Customs Journal and other work and publications in the trade and supply chain sectors. These subjects not only provide the vehicle through which to raise the professional standards in the border and trade management environment but also encourage the participation of the researchers and thought leaders of tomorrow.

John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” At no time has that been more pertinent than within our current Coronavirus Pandemic crisis. New norms are about to emerge that will require our researchers and thought leaders to confront paradigms, adapt and design new practices. Education and innovation are important building blocks in that future.

Navin Kumar is Director of Maritime Research at Drewry, an independent maritime and shipping consultancy established in London in 1970. In April 2020 in an on-line article by Adele Berti for Ship Technology, Kumar said, “One of the biggest long-term impacts of this outbreak is that countries/companies will be wary of putting all their eggs in one basket. People will surely look into diversifying their supply chains.”

In the same article Paul Cuatrecasas, CEO of investment banking firm Aquaa Partners and author of ‘Go Tech or Go Extinct’, believes the post-coronavirus years will be all about digital disruption. “Demand has dropped across the board, including at ports, the trucking industry, the shipping industry, almost anywhere you look,” he said. “Covid-19 has just slapped everybody in the face so get ready because what’s coming is going to be even greater disruption in different forms.”

The crisis could become a key catalyst for digital and technological advancements in the shipping industry. Investment in freight technologies as well as companies providing data analysis, artificial intelligence software and overall end-to-end supply chain management could increase. This will be key as it “reduces the shock, increases the resilience, [providing] more data, more information, greater ability to manage inventories to track the rates and timing of the shipping that is done”.

Increased investment in these segments will be accompanied by growth in the autonomous transportation sector, paving the way for autonomous shipping. “This is not just because [automation] is cheaper, or more efficient,” Cuatrecasas said. “The nature of autonomous activities is one that can solve many, many problems, and deal with resilience in the core.”  

These will translate into the further evolution of e-commerce into a largely tech-savvy industry with cargo drones, 3D printers and robotics at its disposal. “Covid-19 will have a disruptive power across all industries but particularly in the supply chain and in the transportation sector, it won’t just be in the short term,” he concluded. “Investment into freight tech companies will help the existing industry to connect all the different players, shippers, brokers and carriers in the maritime basis to optimise current operations.”

If Paul Cuatrecasas is correct in his assessment, then the World will need to draw upon, at least, the three pronged approach by the Centre for Customs and Excise Studies and mobilise those with the education and innovation such as the students from Charles Sturt University.

David Hesketh
25th June 2020