Strategic goods may be used to produce weapons of mass destruction or violate human rights, so their transportation requires licencing. Developing and implementing a transparent strategic goods information system is important for the global security policy, as this is a direct measure for fighting corruption and the spread of armament. In February, Spin TEK launched the e-licensing system in the Philippines, marking an important step in providing security in the region.
E-licensing allows the integration of international databases
Spin TEK is an Estonian IT company founded the same year Estonia gained re-independence in 1991. Over 30 years of operations, it has developed over 60 original software and information systems, ranging from digital cemeteries to quality management software, with clients from Estonia to Cyprus.
In 2015, they developed an e-licensing software Stratlink. The idea emerged from the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for licencing strategic goods transportation in Estonia. By then, 98% of Estonian public services were already digitalised, so taking on this next challenge was logical.
E-licensing is a simple environment that helps to issue licenses for strategic goods. It allows to identify both persons and goods that arrive or leave the country and find out whether they are planned to be used for the wrong reasons. Importantly, the system is linked to the UN, EU, and USA databases, which list sanctioned individuals, their companies and other important information regarding strategic goods. However, while some principles of the software are universal, it has to be separately developed for each country to ensure compatibility with its databases.
Global spread for e-licensing
During the following years, after setting up the system in Estonia, delegations globally showed interest in this unique software. In 2016, cooperation was established with the US Department of State to develop the software for export to other countries. The first countries where this was implemented were Ukraine and Moldova in 2018.
„At that time, it was a big deal that countries in this region showed interest in making the transportation of strategic goods more transparent and reducing corruption,“ said Spin TEK board member Mari Uusmaa.
“Transparent and secure e-services are particularly important in this field, as it helps countries directly fight terrorism and illegal rail traffic.”
Cooperation with the US Department of State has functioned on many levels. In some countries, the US is interested in implementing e-licensing and acts as a donor. At the same time, it educates software developers on the latest development in the field. Their involvement also signals high-level trust in the product. It must be noted that many countries contact Spin TEK also directly. Recently, interest towards its e-licensing information system has peaked. By now, Stratlink is in use in 12 countries.
High-level cooperation in Southeast Asia
The latest news comes from Southeast Asia. In February, Spin TEK handed over the licensing system for the Philippines. This is significant for both partners. For the Philippines, contributing to the area where arms smuggling is an issue allows them to become a role model for other countries in the region.
This is the reason for the high-level representation by the Philippines government at the launch event. In his speech, Minister of the Trade Alfredo E. Pascual praised launching the e-licensing platform as a significant stage in monitoring and controlling trade in specified strategic goods, with the export value surging to $4.5 billion in 2021.
“The platform launch is a significant stage in monitoring and controlling trade in the specified strategic goods,” Mr Pascual said. “We aim to balance facilitating legitimate trade and maintaining international peace and security, and we want to trade in tools while ensuring that these tools are not used as weapons.”
Janice Sacedon-Dimayacyac, the Strategic Commodities Authority Director, said that the launch of the e-licensing system is an important milestone for the Philippines to provide a one-stop-for-all system for easy and secure access, retrieval, and sharing of data between relevant agencies.
„I want to thank our development partners for making the dream of having an e-licensing platform come to fruition,” Ms Sacedon-Dimayacyac said at the event.
The high-level event on Monday was preceded by a week of intense training. More than one hundred companies and high-level state organisations, such as customs and intelligence agencies, were trained to use the software. This only confirms the significance of the deployment of Stratlink in the Philippines.
Ms Uusmaa said they are already developing Stratlink for Sri Lanka, and other countries are queuing up. Hopefully, the wider implementation of e-licensing will boost global security for everyone.