What role will AI play in global trade?

MIC Products | | MIC Customs Solutions |

How could the development of AI transform the way global trade shipments are managed?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been one of the biggest trends of 2023, with the impact of this being felt across many sectors, from automotive and healthcare to art. But with development in this field continuing to grow at a fast pace, it's inevitable that sooner or later, the AI revolution will extend to the global trade environment.

But what will this look like for traders, logistics firms and other organizations involved in world trade? 

The benefits of greater automation

A key role for AI will be the ability to reduce many tedious manual processes, which may include the electronic filing of customer data and collating vital documentation from various suppliers. 

This should greatly streamline many key logistics processes and reduce issues such as delays at ports of entry while the correct paperwork is found. As well as automating filings for border crossing, it can be used to spot errors in documentation.

AI can also provide greater visibility throughout the supply chain, analyzing data from multiple sources such as business records, online news and government data sources to identify the safest, fastest or most cost-effective shipping routes.

Changes to the types of shipments?

On a practical level, the emergence of AI may also lead to changes in the types of goods that are transported around the world. By combining AI with tools such as 3D printing, it may be possible for certain parts to be created when needed closer to the point of use, reducing the demand for some categories of goods. It could also help businesses identify alternative sources of components or raw materials.

It may also blur the lines between goods trade and services trade, which could mean logistics companies have to reconsider what rules and policies apply to shipments. For example, are AI tools such as self-driving capabilities in cars classed as a good or a service? These are policy gaps that will need to be addressed sooner rather than later, as currently, there is a patchwork of different regulations around the world that may lead to increased trade costs.

Using AI to assist with tariff classification

Another area in which AI can be deployed is when it comes to classifying goods for tariffs. This can be a complex process at present, especially when dealing with manufactured goods with many parts. As a result, correctly calculating tariff rates can be a very labor-intensive part of the customs process.

However, the use of AI with technologies such as natural language processing can greatly improve this through automation. MIC, for instance, recently trained an AI model with 650,000 parts and 3.1 million product images for customs tariff classification for a large ecommerce provider. This is able to classify a product based on a picture and a description, greatly increasing the speed of classification is done while also reducing the risk of errors.

Such solutions promise to transform how key processes are handled in the coming years, saving huge amounts of time and resources for customs managers while ensuring that firms are reporting accurate tariff classification to authorities around the world to guarantee compliance.