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Flanders to pilot data sharing platform Gateway²Britain

Innovative digital application set to revolutionise trading arrangements between the UK and the north Belgium region.

First announced in June 2023, the aim of Gateway²Britain platform is to make trade between Flanders and Britain as frictionless as possible. The application will allow traders to fill out just one dataset online, which is then automatically shared with all the relevant supply chain and logistics partners.

The initiative is being delivered by a partnership between Port of Antwerp-Bruges, VLAIO (Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship), Flanders Investment & Trade and technical delivery partner, Deloiite.

During several pilot tests, which will take place at the end of the first quarter of 2024, multiple real-life shipment flow will be simulated end-to-end, involving all stakeholders within the logistical chain.

The pilot product contains many of the functionalities of the envisioned, final platform. These include the core modules of the application including shipment/transport management, data authorisation management, document management, communication management and notification management.

In this stage of the development, the dataset is manually inserted by the user in the web-application, but in the future automatic data exchanges will be facilitated via API technology. An analysis is being undertaken of the different systems that are used by the various stakeholders, such as the exporter’s ERP, the transporter’s TMS, the terminal operator’s TOS, the community systems of the Flemish and British ports as well as the systems of the Belgian and UK customs authorities.

Alongside the development of the web application, the Flemish Institute for Logistics has developed the Gateway²Britain certification for logistics service providers. Logistical service providers that meet a set of pre-defined certification criteria are eligible to obtain the Gateway²Britain quality certificate. This certificate testifies that the logistical service provider can handle the administrative and shipping requirements for export to the UK, making them a single point of contact for trade requirements to the UK. This service is tailored to SMEs and aims to provide a low-entry barrier for trade with the UK.

The UK is a significant trading partner for Flanders. Full-year trade figures for 2022 revealed that the total value of exports from the UK to Flanders amounted to. €33.77 billion. The total value of imports into the UK from Flanders was €27.95 billion, making the UK Flanders’ 4th highest export market. Flanders is in 16th position as a world goods exporter.

Research carried out among more than a thousand UK traders for Flanders Investment & Trade in May 2023 found that nearly 74% of UK companies agree that they had been forced to consider alternative markets due to the bureaucracy involved in trading with the EU post Brexit.

Almost half of the respondents (48%) said they would trade more if the process was simplified and just over two in five (42%) had seen trade decrease with the EU since Brexit.

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