Maritime export: how it works and what are the benefits?

Maritime export
8 minutes to read

When we stop to analyze, we can see the enormous importance of maritime exports for the development of humanity. It is an engine that maintains open international relations and promotes the development of the entire production chain in the country and in companies that know the importance of exporting.

Do you want to understand more about when it is necessary to export by sea and what are the benefits of this process? We invite the consultant and commercial agent of Interoceanica Logistics & Solutions, Paulo De Lello, to discuss the matter in depth. Follow!

The historical context

Since the dawn of history, maritime navigation has never stopped evolving and has always been responsible for carrying out commercial transactions between countries, exports, and imports, although much has changed since the days of the caravels until today. 

The current globalization, a process of international deepening of economic, political, cultural, and social integration, would not be feasible without maritime export, which allowed the extension of the local productive chain to other countries in search of gains in scale, cost reduction and expansion of markets. Undoubtedly, the movement of cargo between countries has increased considerably due to this worldwide phenomenon.

The concept of maritime export and how it happens 

The initial concept for this discussion is simple and straightforward: “Maritime export is a process that aims to leave goods from the country of origin to another country, through various logistical operations, documentary processes and the maritime transport of cargo”.

But there are more particularities to be analyzed in this process. As Paulo explains, “it may seem, to a layman on the subject, that maritime exportation is a service that can simply be chosen by an exporter according to the proximity of the port or greater affinity for this mode of transportation. Only, in fact, it is not you who choose maritime export, but the maritime modal that will choose your cargo to be transported by it”, he concludes.

This is because the operation requires detailed logistics studies to determine the cost and operational feasibility of the entire process. This study encompasses from the origin of the cargo in the production, the internal transport until near the place of embarkation, storage, stuffing in the case of containers, handling in the port, the international transport and, if it is the case, the inland in the destination country until delivery to the end customer. In addition, the company must be able to issue all the necessary documentation for the legalization of the operation.

This study is usually carried out by specialists and international transport must be intermediated by the maritime agent (shipping agent), as it involves many details, such as the type of cargo, quantity and characteristics of the product, packaging, availability and frequency of ships, transit time and, mainly, costs, to enable the closing of the operation.

Vessels can generally offer their freight according to the modalities:

  • regular line, with a predefined commercial route.
  • non-regular line, with a fixed price in relation to opportunities in ports
  • maritime chartering, with the complete and dedicated occupation of a vessel for only one customer.

Paulo gives some examples of cargoes that can only be exported by sea transport, due to their nature and quantities, as is the case of solid bulk (minerals and grains, for example), liquid (petroleum) or gaseous (GNP). It also mentions the transport of steel products and other dry cargo in general cargo ships, and all types of industrial products that are usually shipped in container ships. There is also a specialty in maritime transport that makes it exclusive for heavy lift and over dimension cargo units.

Maritime export is of fundamental importance for the country, since it represents 95% of Brazilian exports in weight and 70% in value, according to recent data from MINFRA. This demonstrates how vital the sector’s investment and development is, both by government agencies and by the private sector.

The benefits of exporting by sea

The predominance of maritime exports in Brazil and in the world is no accident. Companies that seek this transport mode are looking for specific benefits regarding their comparative advantages in relation to other modes, such as:

freight cost – lower than air freight. Paulo raises exceptions, such as the nature of the product. Fresh fruits, for example, are perishable in a short time, imposing the highest value air freight on the exporter.

amount of cargo carried – load capacity greater than other modes. Another advantage of the maritime modal is to meet the need for large shipments, reducing the number of trips and the total costs, comparing with the road or air.

flexibility – for transporting cargo of any kind. Except for perishable cargo in a short time, the ship can transport cargo in its most varied quantities and volumes, from a pallet in an LCL container to thousands of tons of bulk cargo, as well as large and heavy project cargo in special ships.

Documentation and necessary actions for maritime export 

As you may have noticed, given the complexity of the process, the success of a maritime export depends on well-planned procedures and efficient operating routines at ports and ships.

Thus, maritime export requires a series of documents and records that are perfectly prepared so that everything runs as assertively as possible. Follow!

Accreditation at SISCOMEX

For a company to be able to sell to other countries, it must be legally prepared to do so. “Your contract or bylaws need to provide for exports and imports, and the company has to do its accreditation, appoint its responsible and legal representatives in SISCOMEX (Integrated Foreign Trade System), a computerized system that integrates all registration, monitoring and control activities foreign trade”, explains Paulo.

Product classification 

To guide the research of the product to be exported, to know the applicable taxes, consenting bodies, international agreements and other relevant information, the company must seek its classification in the Mercosul Common Nomenclature (NCM). 

Terms of sale

Negotiation with the client and the definition of terms on exports is made according to the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) regulations. These are the rules called INCOTERMS that must be clearly determined in the contract.

These clauses define where the exporter’s liability ends and the importer’s liability begins, currently represented by 11 acronyms: EXW, FCA, FAS, FOB, CPT, CIP, CFR, CIF, DAP, DPU and DDP – as stated in INCOTERMS 2020.

Proforma invoice 

It is the document that initiates the import process. Issued by the exporter, it allows the importer to begin his legal and logistical measures in the country of destination – such as the prior license to import.

Paulo explains yet another function for the Proforma Invoice: “If the importer confirms acceptance, the deal will be closed, and this document will work as a contract between the parties”.

Export sales invoice and DU-E

The invoice is the document issued by the exporter that gives rise to the other internal documents. When entering “NF Key” in SISCOMEX, all information on that note will be available there.

Through SISCOMEX, based on these data, the legal representative generates the issue of the DU-E (Single Export Declaration) and monitors the digital process. In the bonded area, the port operator obtains from the “Presença de Carga” system. After boarding, the freight forwarder makes his records to achieve the status “cargo completely exported”.

Foreign exchange contract 

It is an important document and issued by the foreign exchange broker. Refers to the sale of foreign currency traded for its conversion into reais for payment of the exported product.

International export documents

For maritime export, depending on the destination country and the negotiation, the exporter must send to the importer, at least, the basic international documents:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • International Maritime Bill of Lading (Bill of Lading or B/L)

If the destination is a country that has a commercial agreement with Brazil, for reduction or exemption from taxes, the importer will need to prove the origin of the Brazilian product. For this, the exporter must provide the “Certificate of Origin”.

In addition, depending on the nature and classification of the product in the NCM, there may be requirements from one or more of the 15 other official consenting bodies for goods to leave or enter the country. In such cases, the exporter must also arrange for the issuance of these “other documents”.

The exporter will also be able to insure the “insurance of international cargo transportation”, if the negotiated INCOTERM determines that this action is his responsibility.

As you can see, the process is complex and requires a lot of documentation. For this reason, the support of specialized companies is essential for the process’s compliance and efficiency. With this care, maritime export is a viable solution to gain new markets. Your company’s future may be a long way from our coast.

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