The best known IT system, and the one that plays a most significant role in Singapore's trade, is TradeNet.
TradeNet is an EDI system that links over 12,000 traders (an increase from 1,000 in 1990), support companies, and government agencies that are involved in Singapore's
international trade, for the purpose of exchanging trade documents electronically. Through TradeNet, companies and agencies can submit, directly from their computers,
documents such as trade declarations, which state the nature, source, and destinations of products, and permits, which are needed to be approved by government agencies.
A document can be sent to all relevant bodies and returned with approvals in about 15 minutes. This process once took between two and four days. The documentation-
processing cost has been reduced by more than 20 percent
At the end of 1995, TradeNet went interactive. This reduced the processing time to about
2.5 minutes. The interactive system allows documents to be processed in real-time, instead of being collected and sent out later in batches
TradeNet is a facilitator of international trade and a foundation upon which several
national networks are constructed.
Typical Document Flow in TradeNet
International trade is characterized not only by the physical movement of goods across national boundaries, but also by the unwieldy, voluminous, and costly paperwork
that accompanies it, containing data that facilitate the physical goods movement (e.g., destination), show ownership, and describe attributes of the goods, including whether they meet governmental requirements (e.g.,whether they are high-technology goods that may be prohibited from export to certain countries).
The main goal for TradeNet was enhancing the international competitiveness. There was considerable excitement about the possibility for a trader to make a single electronic trade document submission that would be routed to as many agencies as required. By providing fast turnaround and making it easy, convenient, and cost effective for traders to do business, Singapore would be able to attract more companies to make investments as well as set up their regional headquarters within her borders. TradeNet was seen as a new way of doing business in the global arena, and Singapore would be among the pioneers in simplifying trade processing.
Behind a strategic IT effort requires a vision that goes beyond the original problem that triggered its birth. TradeNet evolved into an idea that would enhance the global competitiveness of Singapore as a trading nation.
TradeNet operates for 24 hours.
In order to provide better opportunities to the economy, the Singaporean Government realized that providing IT to government agencies would improve the efficiency of the for external trade. This is where TradeNet came in to improve IT in the airport and port.
* A project team was also formed to define, develop, and implement the proposed system. The team completed the functional specifications for the system
in February 1987 and began the search for a technical solution.
The prior solution involved a large mainframe computer with online linkages to traders to allow the submission of trade documents for clearance. The search for alternative solutions took two forms: first, a request for information (RFI) was sent to prospective vendors to find out the products and services available to meet the requirements of the functional specifications; second, the project team visited several seaport and airport installations in Japan, Sweden, Holland, the UK, and the United States. They saw both online and EDI-based systems. On their return, and on studying the 23 responses to the RFI, the...