April 10, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s long-delayed effort to automate cargo clearance is making some progress with import manifests being filed electronically along with tea export documentation, trade officials said. A trial run involving Sri Lanka customs and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has been completed with shipping lines now filing import manifests electronically.

Automation of cargo clearance will help speed up trade flows, reduce costs and port congestion, said A V Rajendra, former chairman of the Ceylon Association of Ships’ Agents, now heading its IT and documentation committee.

It will enable faster clearance of cargo, reduce documentation, and ultimately reduce manufacturing lead times.

Fast-track clearance of imports and exports will mean online users can register manifests in as little as 10 minutes and be able to do it 24 hours a day and even on holidays.

“EDI (electronic data interchange) means faster clearance of containers from Colombo port. It will also reduce congestion in harbour and enable shippers to plan clearance of shipments in advance,” Rajendra told LBO.

Some documentation, especially the requirement for copies to different institutions, is still being do