Automating Trade Documentation: Efficiency and Accuracy

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An effective compliance program hinges greatly on maintaining accuracy in trade documents. However, manual data entry and outdated documentation methods can slow traders down and expose them to the risks of human error. Is there a better way for traders to document their activities? Yes. 


Importers and exporters worldwide are saving time and money by pivoting to automated record-keeping. Digital trade documentation is transforming how traders approach their operations and improving compliance. How? 


Let’s explore how automated documentation can improve your organization’s efficiency and accuracy. First, let’s get an overview of the importance of creating and retaining accurate and efficient trade paperwork. 


Why Trade Documentation Accuracy & Efficiency Matters 


At face value, more accurate and efficient documentation helps traders save time and money. Of course, time and money are key drivers in any business. However, the accuracy of your documentation contributes to shaping the future global trade landscape. 


“The accuracy of import (and export) information is important not only because it

affects the revenue, but because accurate trade information and statistics are important

in determining trade policy, the future eligibility of certain goods or goods from certain

countries for special programs, the impact of imports on domestic industries, and the

effectiveness of various trade agreements and programs,” explains the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its 2005 revision of the document What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About: Recordkeeping


Nearly twenty years later, these reasons for accurate trade documentation remain valid. Beyond these big-picture motivations, what other reasons do traders have for maintaining accurate documentation?


Automation – A Global Trend


Many regulatory bodies of trading nations across the globe continually work to update and automate their systems for document submissions and granting authorizations.


Significantly, in a document of recommendations prepared by the Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness, the International Trade Administration noted, “Just as standardized container shipping transformed the modern supply chain, standardized/harmonized administrative facilities have the potential to dramatically increase efficiency and transparency across the value chain for goods moving across borders.”


Traders can stay on the cutting edge of the global trend toward automation by implementing new methods into their own operations. What are the tangible benefits of automating your import and export documentation? 


Trade Document Management Best Practices in 2024 – Automation


Commercial invoices, bills of lading, packing lists, Electronic Export Information Filing (EEI), customs documents, and the list goes on… Indeed, traders carry a heavy load of responsibility regarding preparing accurate documentation at every wrung on the import/export ladder. 


“Remember, even when using a broker, you, the importer of record, are ultimately responsible for the correctness of the entry documentation presented to CBP and all applicable duties, taxes, and fees,” advises the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)


Automation is becoming the new best practice for modern trade operations


Trade Document Automation Benefits


Note at least six major benefits importers and exporters can yield from investing in record-keeping automation: 


  1. Minimizing labor-intensive processes. Use automation software to reduce the need for painstaking manual data entry and relieve your team of the burden. Replace outdated, manually managed spreadsheets with a centralized, easy-to-access platform that automatically generates centralized data. Automation helps diminish operational costs while lowering the risk of human error. 
  2. Leveraging profit-boosting opportunities. –  Provisions like Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Duty Drawbacks present an opportunity for traders to improve their bottom line. Still, taking advantage of these provisions requires quite a lot of paperwork and organization. Traders can let automation software handle the heavy administrative tasks and cash in on these golden opportunities. 
  3. Mitigating risks. – New automation-facilitating technologies, allow traders to keep an uneditable audit trail of transactional data, working to prevent data manipulation and tampering. Automation also helps protect traders from engaging in business with denied parties or failing to obtain necessary authorizations. These proactive measures help traders avoid costly mistakes, which could lead to criminal repercussions, reputational damage, and financially-crippling fines. 
  4. Demonstrating due diligence. – Implementing careful documentation methods promotes transparency and shows regulatory authorities that your organization is committed to compliance. Automation software allows you to create and retain all necessary documentation for the appropriate amount of time. 
  5. Boosting organizational security. – Automation technology can help traders prioritize security through screening, secure data storage, and even visitor management. Traders can even use it to help comply with regulations and recordkeeping requirements governing technical data exports, facilitating secure data transfers.    
  6. Promoting cross-department cohesion. – Use automation software to unify all departments, giving authorized team members access to real-time, secure data on a centralized platform. Traders can even set up alerts that notify them when action needs to be taken to keep a transaction or process moving. These provisions save time and money while promoting transparency and helping your team work together.  


How can you implement automation to enjoy streamlined document workflows?


Robust Global Trade Management Software


At OCR Global Trade Management, we consistently help our customers refresh their approach to compliance with cutting-edge digital tools. Global EASE, our end-to-end trade management solution, is flush with documentation efficiency tools, offering next-level accuracy and yielding high ROI.


Our software presents time-saving automation opportunities at nearly every stage of the import/export lifecycle, including:


  • Screening for denied parties, sanctions, and more 
  • Screening for and acquiring licensing and permits 
  • Classifying products and submitting inquiries for official rulings
  • Preparing and filing customs documents 
  • Managing Duty Drawbacks and FTAs  
  • Transmitting electronic import/export declarations  
  • Documenting end-user and end-use checks
  • Facilitating electronic filing with regulatory authorities 
  • Managing orders and shipments
  • De-stressing internal and external audits
  • Integrating with shipping carriers, freight forwarder and broker systems 
  • Facilitating secure data transfers
  • Tracking and disclosing non-compliance incidents
  • Much more


Global EASE centralizes your organization’s documents, keeping them secure and accessible to authorized parties. Our scalable portal can be customized to your organization’s needs and integrated with your current IT landscape. 


Trade documentation automation paves the way to compliance, allowing your organization to demonstrate due diligence like never before. We’re ready to grow with you and help you elevate each aspect of your compliance program along the way. Reach out to get started.

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