Sylwia Nowak, Senior Customs & Foreign Trade Compliance Officer, Brose

I was very delighted to be part of the Panellists in Session 6 on: ‘The realisation of interoperable digital trade throughout the supply chain – a practical and honest conversation. The truth behind going digital.’  

During the Panel discussion, we have talked about the digital trade documents, major barriers facing digital transformation, challenges in trade digitalisation, available strategies, technical solutions, current pilot programmes and sustainability.

One of the first questions I have been asked by our moderator – Deepesh Patel, was about the true challenges in trade digitalisation. From the Automotive business point of view such as Brose Limited, I have put an emphasis on supplier’s alignment (data correctness on both sides) and businesses having to deal with hundreds if not thousands parts and supplier’s – due to managing high volumes of both, in some cases this task proves challenging (giving an example of how many parts does it take to build a car – 20-30 thousands or an aircraft Boeing 747 – over 6 million [Ref 1.0]). I have also pointed at reliance on own and customs IT system solutions, highlighting recent GVMS and CDS system issues. Both systems – CDS and GVMS, are relatively new and require constant upgrades to work effectively and error-free. Yet, the UK Traders must be able to produce the declaration/data without any delays, considering time critical shipments (like it’s often the case in automotive industry), or perishable goods movements. There are two sides of the coin, especially with CDS forming a basis for the UK’s Single Trade Window – system must be fully capable of handling high volume of declarations error free (therefore constant developments are very much needed), yet the UK traders require immediate/fast responses as well information on oncoming system changes as much in advance as possible, to plan ahead. 

One of the other questions asked was around usage of specific technical solutions as well as Brose’s transition from CHIEF to CDS, where I talked about the whole transition by declaring own goods imported under customs special procedure, using our customs software provider MIC. This move took months of preparations from the review, technical and data automatization perspectives (e.g., HTS & Incoterm reviews and status, document & other related code’s allocations, shipping routes, financial, declaration types, etc.).  

One of the most exciting topics that I was able to elaborate on, was about the Single Trade Window, which personally I am a big advocate of. This is because the customs digitalisation topic was something that myself and my colleagues from the Trade Facilitation in Perishable Goods Committee at last year’s Model WTO worked on, that later got selected and delivered to the WTO Ministry for real consideration. Single Trade Window is part of customs digitalisation and is very much needed here in the UK to ease the customs administration burden especially since Brexit. CDS and/or its data elements are assumed to be the platform’s background for self-declaration filings, and it aims to facilitate faster and more effective communication between various border agencies and traders, it will presumably enable pre-population of data, data visibility and multi-filing [Ref 2.0]. Having discussed advantages and disadvantages of the STW via other forums (such as IOE&IT webinar), as much as the system can be treated as an Ambassador of digital trade and trade facilitation, equally there are data-security concerns that many businesses highlighted – in my opinion only time will tell as of to what and (to what extent) poses threats. One thing for sure, is that businesses and customs/border agencies must move away from physical paperwork and old fashion models and look for the future potential of trade systems. We are living in 21st century, we all use smartphones and share data on a daily basis, the 3-D printers are capable of printing tools, the AI is being used for various common good causes such as spotting fake news, analysing the risks of food shortages or improving climate informatics [Ref 3.0] – advanced technology is all around us and it is time for trade to move on (I highly recommend WTO’s report on ‘The promise of TradeTech Policy approaches to harness trade digitalisation’ [Ref 4.0] for further insights and topic exploration). 

Finally, there are various models that works for various businesses, for Brose Limited self-declaration model and software solution works very well, and being able to easily access customs data for self-auditing and strategy planning is a clear plus. Technology can pose real problems (declaration/border delays leading to costly productions stoppages) equally it can provide so many facilitations if well developed and used correctly.  


[Ref 1.0] How Many Parts are in a Car? ( [Ref 2.0] UK Single Trade Window – Policy discussion paper – GOV.UK ( [Ref 3.0] 10 Wonderful Examples Of Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) For Good (

[Ref 4.0] tradtechpolicyharddigit0422_e.pdf (