Liberia: Understanding the Cargo Tracking Note System and Its Benefits

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Cargo Tracking Note or the Advanced Cargo System (CTN/ACS) might be new to Liberia, but certainly not new to the rest of the region, the African continent and the rest of the world. Sadly, Liberia has been lagging behind in the implementation of this international requirement.
Liberia: Understanding the Cargo Tracking Note System and Its

The CTN requirement was implemented by Liberian Customs officials in 2018, obliging all Exporters / Freight Forwarders to obtain this certificate for each shipment before they touch Liberian ports.

Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) or Advance Cargo System was introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) call ISPs Code after the 9/11 attack in the USA as a means of improving the security around marine shipment.

It is a system that is used to verify the security, safety, and contents of every cargo that comes in and out of every port in the world.

Many Countries in the African continent require exporters to notify Custom Authorities about the shipment details before they arrive.

CTN certificates, also known as waiver documents, enable Marine Custom Authorities to access information about exporter/importer, shipping route and methods, type and value of the cargo, the value of the freight as well as the details about commodity being carried. It is very important exporter submits the CTN certificates before the cargo arrives at its final destination.

CTN, also known as loading certificate, provides security assurance and allows customs authorities to track the shipment before it arrives to the port of discharge. Shipping or arrival without CTN certificate may result in high fines at the destination port. Also, through the system each country can maintain statistical data for future logistical monitoring.

Types of CTN certificate

There are different CTN certificates depending on the country of discharge. In fact, these are the same certificate with different names. Each country requires its own waiver certificate and has its own regulations and requirements.

The list is as follows:

CTN: Ghana; Liberia, Sierra Leone.

BESC: Benin; Cameroon.

ECTN: Republic of Chad; Togo; Guinea Conakry; Libya; Central African Republic; Republic of Congo; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Equatorial Guinea.

BSC: Ivory Coast; Senegal; Niger; Madagascar; Mali.

FERI: Democratic Republic of Congo

CNCA: Angola

BEITC: Gabon

CEE: Guinea Bissau

 Advantages of CTN to the Nation as a Whole

CTN is also used to ensure the traceability of cargoes, which perfectly meets the safety and security requirements of international conventions including the ISPS code, SAFE standards, and the Supply Chain.

These considerations are taken into account in the design and implementation of the CTN, so that the opportunities offered by this document can be assessed from a twofold point of view: macro-economic on the one hand, and sectoral and operational on the other hand.

At the macroeconomic level it is possible:

  • To know the total value of sea freight, both in mass and in relative share in relation to the value of exports and imports;
  • To monitor annual changes, cycles, and structural changes;
  • To make comparisons with the indications of other countries whose foreign trade is mainly carried by sea;
  • To determine the rate of coverage of maritime transport by national armaments and third-party armaments; etc.

Sectoral and Operational level:

CTN has many advantages for the economic operator:

  • Improving the conditions for the removal of goods through the availability of information on actors, shipping conditions, merchandise, freight, etc. before the arrival of the ship;
  • Speed up the merchandise removal process: save time, synonymous with reduced storage/warehousing or demurrage costs;
  • Cargo traceability: the system that allows both the exporter and the importer to track online the movement of goods through the transport chain of the embarkation and disembarkation;1q
  • Knowledge and tracking of international shipping costs;
  • Development and publication for importers and exporters of a periodic report on the evolution of marine transport price components for the main categories of goods imported and exported;
  • The detection and the fight against cartels likely to generate a restriction or an elimination of the competition in the maritime transport market destined for the sub-region;
  • Detection and fight against any discriminatory pricing practice;
  • The study of the behavior and degree of risk-taking of economic operators in their international trading operations through the explanation of certain information from the CTN, such as Incoterms.

For the ports

  • Forecast volumes by types of goods;
  • Improvement of the occupation of the container parks and the medians thanks to faster delivery of the goods;
  • Improvement of handling rates thanks to better programming of operations;
  • Reduction of transit time, hence the improvement of port yields and reduction of port costs, and consequently improvement of port competitiveness.
  • Financing of security facilities and services, as well as measures, were taken in the context of maritime border controls in the application of international commitments
    For customs
  • Contribution to the fight against fraud, hence the improvement of customs revenue: the export declaration and the final invoice attached to the CTN discourage fraud on value and constitute for the Customs sources of additional information very significant;
  • Control a posteriori thanks to the availability of data made accessible on databases;
  • Accelerated customs clearance procedures.
  • It is made available to the Customs, which justifies the presence, among the mentions the value of the goods, the main element of work of Customs.

    In the vast majority of countries, the CTN is a condition of admissibility of the declaration in Customs.

    It must ensure the follow-up and the processing before the arrival of the goods, thus contributing to the facilitation of the accelerated hand-lifting of goods upon their arrival and the facilitation of the exchanges.

    To this end, it is important to emphasize that the CTN is not a customs instrument, but an instrument used by Customs and other administrations such as ports.

    In countries where the collaboration between the actors of the port community in the context of the exploitation of the CTN, these have really appropriated the system by relying on the access open to them to carry out electronically their controls before the arrival of the ship.

    Who Pays for the CTN

    The Cost of CTN is not a new charge since the introduction of the ISPS. It is a charge that is normally charged by Shipping Liners Call the Security Fee by which is Part of the Basic Freight Cost. However, from past experience when CTN is introduced by the government, this charge will increase but after few months, the shipping Liners will be asked to stop charging this fee on their base freight and this will lead to a reduction in the shipping Cost.

    Role of carriers and Risk Management

    The Cargo Tracking Note system set up by GTMS clearly specifies the role of the carrier, who must ensure that the cargo is covered by a valid BSC in accordance with international conventions (the isps code, safety standards, and the supply chain, etc.). Liberia is a signatory.

    The carriers ensure the physical inspection of the cargo before boarding and ensure the conformity of the information provided during the request for CTN application.

    GTMS has a security automaton built into databases for verification before any validation of CTN.

    Value Analysis system

    GTMS now has its own database of commodity values. This allows him in relation with his worldwide local agents to check in case of doubt the information regarding the value of the goods, the origin of the goods, and the method of payment of the invoice, the type of purchase or incoterms that covers the goods.

    The GTMS Cargo Tracking Note system collects information from the vendor’s store to the store in the destination country.

    Tool for defending the interests of economic operators

    By establishing the Cargo Tracking Note System, the Port Authority of Liberia is concerned with having a reliable source of information to fulfill its mission of defending the interests of the port community.

    The Cargo Tracking Note scheme is considered as an obstacle to liberalism by some operators. On the contrary, liberalism does not exclude the possibility of controlling the said markets. This framework exists in the United States (the Shipping Act) and in many European countries, in order to stop certain unfair practices that may harm the interests of national operators.

    International Trade Facilitation Tool

    The data available on maritime services in the national economy are most often limited to the recording of statistics on the flow of goods, without evaluation of their general or sectoral economic contribution.

    Indeed, it is not carried out, globally and regularly, an assessment of freight disbursements and the different costs borne by the main exported and imported products. This would promote the analysis of the competitiveness of maritime transport services, in order to identify the malfunctions and promote the implementation of measures and corrective actions.

    Such an approach is likely to enable authorities, professional organizations and economic operators to have relevant data and indicators on the sector and the performance by sector.

    The judicious exploitation of  Cargo Tracking Note makes it possible to evaluate the overall cost of the maritime component of transport, to monitor it and to provide this indicator regularly on a macro-economic level and in an analytical way.

    In addition, the facilitation and speed of procedures, including their anticipation, contribute substantially to the reduction of costs.

    National Trade facilitation and Export Promotion Tool

    The facilitation of the terms of trade and the reduction of the cost of freight will certainly impact international trade on Liberia.

    The identification of the actors of the chain of transport makes it possible to establish the responsibilities in the event of litigation and to ensure provisional management of the international trade

    Specificity of the Cargo Tracking Schedule in relation to the manifest

    The Cargo Tracking Note Scheme collects much more information in quantity and quality to BL and manifest. Some information is certainly informed from the attached BL, but there are additional entries that are not on the BL or the cargo manifests. These include:

  • The value of the goods;
  • The cost of transportation (basic freight and surcharges);
  • Insurance costs;
  • The terms of sale and purchase (Incoterms);
  • The pre and post delivery of the goods.




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