A dhow on the Dubai creek. As part of a new initiative to move services online, Duba Trade customers will be able to download software that will allow them to upload contracts and engage with business partners remotely, as well as print labels and scan barcodes for their products. Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/ Gulf News

Dubai: Traders will soon be able to track container shipments, check schedules and pay for services electronically, according to Mahmoud Al Bastaki, director of Dubai Trade.

As part of a new initiative to move services online, customers will be able to download software that will allow them to upload contracts and engage with business partners remotely.

"Our main target is to transform the end-to-end trade supply chain," Al Bastaki said.

"The new service will make trade easier, faster and cheaper for all stakeholders. They will allow businesses to check the schedules of all the cargo companies in Dubai and space availability, get price quotes, make bookings and track containers or shipments by reference numbers," he added.

Industry-standard labels

The applicant can pay online using a credit card or e-dirham card, he added. Customers can also download software for barcode label printing to generate industry standard labels for their cargo and print them.

"The integration of services offered earlier by Emirates Sky Cargo and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) into Dubai Trade's online portal will benefit all our customers from the supply chain sector, as well as unregistered visitors to our website," Al Bastaki said.

Starting with 80 services in 2006, Dubai Trade launched as an independent department to be a home for over 800 services accessed by over 57,000 registered companies. Al Bastaki said one of the main objectives for the body was to persuade more customers to use online services.

"Our target is to increase customer adoption of transactional e-services on the Dubai Trade Portal," he said.

Dubai Trade has achieved substantial growth in the number of registered users as well as online transactions last year as more companies joined its electronic platform, Al Bastaki said.

Last year the portal recorded an almost 63 per cent increase in the number of registered companies. The online service provider registered 11.3 per cent year-on-year growth in transactions last year, with online transactions crossing the nine million mark. The Dubai Trade portal recorded 12.8 million transactions in 2011 compared to 11.5 million the previous year.

"Regardless [of] the number of e-services we offer, we are targeting higher growth in electronic adoption by the trading community in the coming years," he said.

Al Bastaki said e-commerce is gaining momentum as more companies are joining the electronic platform of Dubai Trade.

Dubai Dubai Trade director Mahmoud Al Bastaki said the online portal has increasingly institutionalised e-commerce by integrating the supply chain flow in the emirate.

But he stressed the need for the other emirates to integrate their online services through a single platform to facilitate trade and improve efficiency.

"We have never seen a decline in online transactions even during the global financial [downturn] as we continue to grow with the rise in services to business community," he said.

Al Bastaki said that the UAE was ranked fifth after Singapore, Hong Kong, Estonia and Korea in procedural requirements for exporting and importing a standardised cargo of goods, according to a 2011 World Bank report on doing business.

The results are based on factors which include official procedure, export and import documents, contractual agreements between the two parties for the delivery of goods, as well as the time necessary for completion.

The report measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 183 economies. The most recent round of data collection for the project was completed in June 2011.