The complexity of global supply chains is constantly increasing, and our customers and their customers are present in more and more channels. Companies are increasingly transnationally active and send their products around the world. Each country has its own commercial and tax rules. Added to this are international regulations that must be observed. The high level of complexity requires a great deal of expertise. Brexit is currently the perfect example of this. Established customs and trade services are becoming a decisive factor in the market. The Customs & Trade department at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions has the task of ensuring that our customers’ products also reach the right destination abroad.
Warehousing and transport are an important part of this process – yet what happens if the goods reach the border and are not allowed into the country because documents were not filled out completely or correctly? The goods are stuck in customs and must be retrieved and reprocessed. In the worst case, the receiver gets them either too late or not at all. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, the Customs & Trade department is working very diligently to ensure that all documentation is delivered correctly and on time, so that Arvato Supply Chain Solutions' customers can depend on everything going well at the border. The main focus is in particular on countries outside of the EU. “Because there is basically free movement of goods inside the EU, this process is relatively simple. In the area of transport, we concentrate on the transport of goods from Germany to what are called third countries, and make sure that these deliveries arrive safe and on time at the destination,” explains Lisa Marx, Senior Manager of Customs & Trade at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions.
While the shipment of goods within the EU generally does not entail compliance with any documentation requirements, the transport of goods to third countries requires various documents, such as the basic export accompanying document, but also certificates of origin, movement certificates or licenses. Here the requirements differ again from country to country, which makes the task even more difficult. “Without complete and correctly prepared paperwork, no shipment reaches its destination. Accordingly, we must apply great care and attention to detail in data management jobs. Otherwise, the shipment won’t make it beyond the border,” says Lisa Marx. “The United Kingdom will also soon be a third country, just like the USA, Switzerland or China. We will be preparing and processing significantly more documents for this commercial traffic,” she says, foreseeing additional work for herself and her colleagues. “In addition to our daily business, we are the company’s main contact for issues related to Brexit. Information is passed on to us, is carefully analyzed and is then integrated into measures and strategy plans,” Lisa Marx reports.
This is a challenging task for the approximately 20 employees that deal with all customs-related export topics in their normal customer business and day-to-day operations. This includes topics such as the “European Timber Regulation,” or very specific questions – for example, the necessity of SASO certifications for plastic products delivered to Saudi Arabia, proving that they are oxo-biodegradable. Brexit is occupying the center stage because it is imminent. “To us, this is above all a matter of resources. It simply takes a lot of time to prepare for all possible scenarios. This makes it even more important to use available resources optimally,” says Lisa Marx, who directs both import and export teams in the department. “Without the intensive cooperation of all departments, this job could not be done.”
With this service, we protect companies from enormous damage. Through our detailed controls, we prevent sanctions from being circumvented and protect our customers and ourselves from unknowingly breaching them. This makes us the 'Class Leader."”
Export business involves not only shipping, but also observing and monitoring export and compliance regulations. In this respect, the Customs & Trade department provides a special service. Countries, companies and individuals who are sanctioned either by the EU, an international organization or at the national level may not receive deliveries of goods and merchandise, according to applicable legal regulations. In order to comply with this export embargo, all incoming orders are compared with various sanctions lists and are rejected if there is a reason to do so. “Given a master data volume of 350 million, we have a potential five-digit hit count with a six-month period. In such cases we review each master data entry individually,” Lisa Marx explains. This is a great amount of work, but our customers appreciate it.
“We Are Head of the Class in Compliance Matters”
In comparison to the volume of exports, the share of imports – that is, the import of goods from a third country to Germany – is lower. “The amount of work for each of these transactions is also notable, because in such cases we must deal with customs clearance. On behalf of our customers we provide the German authorities with all the information required for each shipment and in return receive a customs declaration on the import duties due, including customs duties and taxes. Only when these import duties have been paid are these goods given the status ‘Union Goods’ and are freely available within the EU.”
Ever since our department was founded more than 10 years ago, we have grown steadily and we continue to grow. Lisa Marx sees the company’s development on a very good path: “For customers all over the world, we have become a specialist who is not only exceptionally well acquainted with both logistics and customs, but who can also respond to individual customer needs. Our experience and the know-how that we have acquired in our business is a combination that is unique and makes us indispensable for many companies. Our express goal is to support our customers competently and to the best of our ability when introducing their goods. We continually work to introduce goods and merchandise into third countries as much as possible on the basis of standardized procedures, thereby ensuring a balance of relevant economic aspects. In the long term, we as a department, but also Arvato Supply Chain Solutions as a company, will achieve even greater prominence because of these services and will provide our customers with even more added value.”