In January 2021, the Government of Mozambique, through the Mozambican Tax Authority, introduced the In-Transit Electronic Sealing and Cargo Tracking System (SEERC), commonly known as electronic sealing, to eliminate the diversion to the domestic market of goods in transit, and provide greater security of the goods that transit through Mozambique’s national freight corridors. As a new process, it began with initial difficulties which required the joining of forces of all stakeholders to resolve outstanding issues and guarantee the systems’ full functioning. As one of the stakeholders, Cornelder is aware of the challenges that a new process like this brings and is committed to ensuring that its implementation occurs without constraints.
New process. New challenges. A new process always brings new challenges. In its first three days, SEERC, or simply electronic sealing, created authentic chaos at the Port of Beira, leading to port closure due to congestion. After articulation between the main stakeholders, the process for sealing cargo within port facilities has now stabilized.
The implementation of SEERC is the result of a Build-Operate-Transfer concession agreement signed in 2019 between the Government of Mozambique, represented by the Mozambique Tax Authority (AT), and the MECTS Consortium (Mozambique Electronic Cargo Tracking Services, SA – Consórcio CE). The concession includes both the installation and operation of the system, which will be carried out nationwide and will cover all goods under a customs transit regime, making electronic sealing and tracking of such goods mandatory.
Task-force. After three (3) days of uncertainty, the stakeholders in the process (Customs, MECTS, Cornelder, and ASOLNAMO – Association of Logistics Operators of Mozambique) gathered and defined how to maximize synergies and improve the eSeal procedures within the Port of Beira. It was agreed that only direct transit cargo leaving the Port of Beira for the hinterland countries would be sealed in this first phase. Subsequently, MECTS will position themselves at bonded warehouses so to proceed with the sealing of transit cargo found here, and in a third phase it will cover cargo in transit by rail.
The electronic seal is applied following a payment, done via the Electronic Single Window (SEW) platform. The fees have been established according to the type of cargo, as defined by Decree no 18/2020 which introduces the sealing fees for goods in transit.
Cornelder’s management argues that electronic sealing could have started without problems if all relevant stakeholders had previously discussed how the process should go: “Electronic sealing was approved by the Government, therefore it the law. Thus we must find ways to make it work, both for local authorities, as well as for port users. The process has been well received. We are working to improve the procedures. Among improvements we need to make, we have identified the need to: (1) define new traffic flow for cargo in direct transit; (2) disseminate the new procedures to port users; (3) create dedicated parking spaces for sealing; (4) improve working conditions for MECTS personnel, including signage indicating where the sealing will take place and lighting for sealing done at night,” emphasizes Cornelder’s management.
What is SEERC? It is a system that allows electronic sealing and cargo tracking in transit, in real-time, through a GPS/GPRS system. Using state-of-the-art technologies, the system guarantees electronic sealing, tracing/monitoring, and action by the authorities in case of attempted theft/diversion or smuggling.
SEERC includes cargo sealing, monitoring during transport through a command center that operates 24 hours a day, and intervention by the Mobile Customs brigades in case of illegal acts. SEERC also allows the sealing of containerized cargo, bulk cargo, and fuel transported in tanks, both by road and by rail.
Objectives, benefits, and impact. The SEERC aims to eliminate/reduce the smuggling and embezzlement of goods in customs transit and the consequent illicit introduction in the domestic market; eliminate theft of goods, which has often been the reason for the occurrence of serious incidents causing loss of human lives, material and financial damage that affect the competitiveness of Mozambique’s transit freight corridors; provide greater protection and competitiveness to the national business community since SEERC will reduce the level of smuggling of goods that has an impact on unfair competition to the national private sector; increase the competitiveness of Mozambique as a regional transit corridor since SEERC will reduce transaction costs, risks, as well as the transit time of goods through the country.
As for the impact of SEERC on the business environment, the reduction of clearance and transit time is projected; reduction of operating costs and merchandise insurance, and the elimination of the use of tax escorts.
Source: Cornelder de Moçambique