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BIT: Self-service application for electronic data exchange

The Federal Office of Information Technology digitizes the transfer of declarations of origin between Switzerland and China

The Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunication (FOITT) must enable the declarations of origin of Authorised Exporters for China to be made in electronic form. Thanks to the recombination of existing modules, together with ipt, they implemented a solution that minimised both the programming effort and the risk. The documents are thus available to Chinese customs within seconds.

The short timeline, unknown requirements and heterogeneous systems were a challenge

With a trade balance of more than 20 billion Swiss francs, China is the sixth largest export market and the fourth largest supplier to Switzerland. In the Free Trade Agreement, the two countries agreed at the end of 2013 to exchange the declarations of origin of the 2500 Authorised Exporters (EA) in electronic form.

The project had to be implemented within six months. Although the requirements for transferring the electronic data were not known, the application had to be set up quickly.

«Despite initial concerns about technical feasibility, we were able to meet all requirements within the given timeframe.»
Dominik Liebmann Lead Consultant, ipt

The solution was designed, implemented, tested and introduced from scratch. Then all exporting companies (Authorised Exporters) had to be informed and registered. To ensure the correct handling of the application, user training was elementary.

The technical infrastructure of both countries is very heterogeneous and their integration is accordingly demanding. For the Chinese developers the connection of their IBM WebSphere MQ system was mandatory. The BIT used a service-oriented architecture (SOA) based on web services for system integration.

Parallel software development in Switzerland and China also had to take into account the time difference and cultural differences.

Despite major unknowns, the self-service application was successfully implemented across national borders

The FOITT has developed the electronic solution for the project «EA Data Exchange with China (EACN)» in close cooperation with ipt. Within a very short time, a self-service application was introduced which enables the transfer of declarations of origin between Switzerland and China. Only a few seconds after the documents have been made available, they are now available to Chinese customs.

«In cooperation with ipt's integration experts, we implemented the e-government solution quickly and in high quality.»
Dominik Meier Project Manager, Swiss Federal Customs Administration

Existing building blocks were combined in a new way - IBM DataPower as Web Service Gateway and Oracle as database. This kept both the risk and the programming effort low and the project could be advanced rapidly. The big unknown - the integration of the IBM Web¬Sphere MQ System in China - we mastered together.

Thanks to regular, cross-national online meetings, parallel development was ensured. The specialists compared the planning, defined work packages and continuously recorded progress. The key to success was building trust.

After six months of project duration, the solution is up and running. Since then, Swiss companies have also benefited from their EA status in trade with China.

The digitisation of the transmission was a complete success for the Federal Office of Information Technology

The EACN application intensifies the economic relationship between Switzerland and China, increases exports and promotes prosperity.

The manual effort for processing documents is greatly reduced because the EA itself records and transmits the declarations of origin: reduced effort for the Federal Customs Administration, lower costs for customs customers.

Efficient declaration: seconds after the declarations of origin have been made available in Switzerland, they are available to Chinese customs. The electronic transmission reduces the risk of rejected proofs of origin for EA.

«Thanks to the proactive behaviour and know-how of the ipt specialists, we were able to react quickly and easily to unforeseen events. We knew the progress of the project at all times.»
Dominik Meier Project Manager, Swiss Federal Customs Administration

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