Dubai Customs has introduced a new blockchain-based cross border e-commerce platform as the Emirate aims to become a global hub for e-commerce.
The project, piloted in September 2019, is comprised of two phases. The first phase is the blockchain platform to facilitate e-commerce export transactions through couriers and this was completed last September. The second phase focuses on facilitating e-commerce imports, declaration consolidation and automated refunds and aims to reduce fees and charges in addition to onboarding of logistics companies to the platform.
“We are building today on the exceptional successes achieved by Dubai. The cross border e-commerce is one of many projects that Dubai Customs have embarked on to boost the trade of the UAE and Dubai,” says Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World group chairman and CEO.
“The platform will eliminate declaration submission time and reduce cost of e-commerce transactions and identify and certify e-commerce companies in order to serve them better. It will also provide 100 per cent visibility to all stakeholders on e-commerce transactions and regulate goods return by linking trader and customs system to accept returns,” he says.
Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, director general, Dubai Customs, adds: “It [the platform] will increase local e-commerce activity to AED 24 billion (USD 6.5 billion) by 2022 and reduce cost of e-commerce transactions by 20 per cent, which includes storage and shipment.”
Dubai Customs says the e-commerce market in the Middle East and North Africa grew 25 per cent to reach USD 8.3 billion in 2017, and is expected to rise to USD 28.5 billion by 2022, making the region the fastest growing in e-commerce region worldwide with 25 per cent annual growth.
In early-2019, state-developer Dubai South announced its intent to spend AED 2.0 billion to build an e-commerce free trade zone – EZDubai – to attract e-commerce, logistics and other related industries. Foreign companies operating within the 920,000 sqm zone are allowed 100 per cent ownership.
Dubai is already the headquarters of the region’s largest e-commerce company, Souq.com, which was bought by Amazon in 2017. It is also home to noon.com, an online shopping site set up by Dubai billionaire Mohammed Alabbar.