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BERNE, Switzerland: The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has warned that the growth in postal BtC e-commerce will "create challenges for advance data filing regulations" and may lead to a high percentage requiring secondary security screening.

Addressing 250 delegates at a meeting of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) that included postal authorities, governments and logistics companies, TIACA secretary general Doug Britten said: "With mail parcels, we are potentially dealing with a different type of shipper, and we are looking at significant and growing volumes."

UPU director general Bishar Hussein, (pictured with World Customs Organisation secretary general Kunio Mikuriya), noted that with global BtC online sales expected to be US$1.5 trillion this year, efficient and effective partnerships with all stakeholders in the global e-commerce supply chain was important. "From e-tailers, logistics, airlines and Customs to payment agents and transporters handling the last-mile delivery and return services, all must work together to ensure the free flow of items and availability of services to citizens around the world," he said.

"The postal network is an essential linkUPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein with World Customs Organization Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya in this global supply chain," he added.

According to a European Commission report published earlier this year, the EU BtC e-commerce market grew by around 20 percent to €250 billion in 2012. The Commission expects an annual increase of more than 10 percent across the 28 Member States between 2013 and 2016 with varying degrees of penetration.

The study says that while over 80 percent of UK internet users bought online in 2012, the figure was only 11 percent in Romania. However by 2016 the EU thinks cross-border e-commerce will multiply by a factor of four - a figure supported by Deutschepost DHL that says "the strongly increasing importance" of its parcel business will lead to an annual three percent rise in operating profit of its mail division to 2020.

In anticipation of new government regulations that will require individual shipment information to be submitted to destination regulatory agencies in advance of transportation, TIACA wants Customs and civil aviation regulators to agree on standardized data elements as well as security screening protocols. At the moment the Customs' requirement is for information to be transmitted prior to arrival at the port of entry.

With the change in process, Britten said the challenge will be identifying where the individual parcels are located if the information is not processed quickly. "Postal Operators face their own challenges when it comes to screening. A shipment may be only one piece in a ULD but may be required to be found, off-loaded and screened. We need to work to ensure standardization of the data elements themselves, as well as security screening protocols, which now vary significantly," he added.

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