Providing key connections to help digital transformation of the global shipping industry
Think enterprise- or industry-wide digital transformation just requires a technology solution? Think again. With the rise in regulation of competition, cybersecurity and data protection and more, companies and industries need sound legal guidance, compliance and other support services as they design and implement digital solutions.
PwC’s work on the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) is a good case in point. Our global network of legal practitioners helped create a strategic collaboration with shipping industry leaders and established the ground-breaking GSBN. The case study highlights the importance of having integrated legal, consulting and technology capabilities to help address challenges in an evolving collaborative economy and turn industry disruption into new business opportunities.
Client: Leading ocean carriers and terminal operators
Our role: Advised on the structure of the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) and obtained regulatory clearances from multiple jurisdictions
Powered by: PwC Global Legal Network, with support from PwC Consulting and Technology service practices
Services: Corporate law advice, competition law analysis, contract preparation and technology implementation support services
Countries: Multiple (including Australia, Hong Kong / China, Chile, Poland, South Korea and the Ukraine)
For several years, the global shipping industry has been trying to leverage blockchain technology on an industry-wide scale to solve some of the biggest problems it faces – backlog of ships, massive congestion, container shortages, and inefficiencies around trade finance - many of which have only been exacerbated during the pandemic. A global trade data utility platform powered by blockchain would enable supply chain participants from around the world to work collaboratively, accelerate the digital transformation of the industry and open up new business opportunities.
There was just one big catch – or rather, many small ones: such a global data platform could not be launched without first clearing all the antitrust and regulatory hurdles in each of the many jurisdictions involved. Increasing competition scrutiny and antitrust regulations from many countries also made the endeavour much more complicated.
PwC was approached for help with resolving legal and regulatory issues as well as finding the right collaborative structure with shipping leaders to smooth the way for industry change. The result: the GSBN – a ground-breaking non-profit joint venture providing a trade global utility platform to leading ocean carriers and terminal operators (COSCO SHIPPING LINES, COSCO SHIPPING Ports, Hapag-Lloyd, Hutchison Ports, OOCL, Port of Qingdao, PSA International and Shanghai International Port Group.)
We drew on our expertise in cross-border and multidisciplinary service capabilities to help the client create the GSBN. We worked closely with the client from structuring through implementation:
“We are not just lawyers. We know the business environment and industry players and bring market insights to every engagement. We understand how economic and political shifts affect industries and can seamlessly connect with our PwC colleagues in consulting, technology and tax to help you achieve your goals. It’s all about connections. That’s the power of PwC Legal.”
In the short time since its establishment in 2021, the GSBN has already transformed how shipping works for its members:
GSBN’s cargo release solution eliminates the need for time-consuming physical exchanges of paper documentation, hence reducing processing time. For example, when deployed in Shanghai, it led to a reduction in overall process time from two to three days, to only one to two hours.
In the long term, PwC will continue to provide antitrust and other services to help the GSBN expand its offerings and to fulfill its mission to transform the shipping industry, streamline operations across the entire global supply chain and create value for all parties involved.
“Today global supply chain disruptions have captured the Zeitgeist of the post Covid era. GSBN’s mission to simplify global trade for all could not be more timely and more important. We are grateful for the expertise from PwC Consulting and Legal teams to help us set up this important project.”
The GSBN Project recently won the “Innovation in Enabling Business Growth” category at the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Asia-Pacific Awards 2022. The project was also awarded “M&A Deal of the Year: North Asia” at The Asia Legal Awards 2022 as well as “Deal of the Year” by In-House Community Magazine.
Competition Law & Antitrust Leader, Global Legal Network, Tiang & Partners, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2833 4918