MC99 ratification is key for e-cargo
The drive towards 100% paperless air cargo requires appropriate regulatory and government support. At a side event during the Ninth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in early December, IATA and FIATA urged states to ratify the Montreal Convention of 1999 (MC99) that unifies certain rules for air transport, namely allowing the use of electronic documents.
Prerequisite for paperless shipments
Electronic messages have existed since the 1980’s but the air cargo industry still relies on paper. MC99 specifically provides the legal framework for the use of electronic documents of carriage, paving the way for freight forwarders and airlines to use the electronic Air Waybill (e-AWB) and other e-freight documents such as the electronic Cargo Security Declaration (e-CSD).
Today, 33% of global trade lanes have electronic customs procedures, where regulations support paperless shipments. A wider adoption of paperless air transportation is being delayed because not all states are parties to MC99. This is a prerequisite to utilize electronic documents, given that both the states of origin and destination of the shipments must have ratified the treaty.
An easy way to enhance global trade
By ratifying MC99, governments could facilitate international trade and boost global economic development. As Des Vertannes, IATA’s Global Head of Cargo, stated, “Governments are looking for quick wins to enhance world trade and ratification of MC99 offers them that opportunity”.
The treaty came in to force in 2003 and currently has 103 State parties (pdf). The list of the 88 ICAO Member States that still need to ratify MC99 includes some major cargo markets, like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. As urged by Stanley H. H. Lim, the immediate Past President of FIATA , “MC99 facilitates international paperless shipment by air and it is vital that governments that have not yet ratified the treaty do so as quickly as possible”.