During the ongoing corona pandemic, international trade has kept a global focus to overcome the difficulties faced. The worldwide customs community, including Pakistan customs, celebrated “International Customs Day” this year as always and the theme was “Customs bolstering recovery, renewal and resilience for a sustainable supply chain”. To facilitate Pakistan’s international trade and to simplify the transborder movement of goods, a paperless platform, the “Pakistan Single Window”, is being introduced by the government of Pakistan through the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), with the help of its customs wing called Pakistan customs. PSW is a consolidated conduit for handling the entire trade-related transactions originating for and from Pakistan. The PSW project has been led by the FBR through their customs department to develop a state-of-the-art trade facilitation and transaction-handling technology solution. This project has been backed by a special legislation approved by the parliament of Pakistan, called the Pakistan Single Window Act of 2021. The PSW is also part of the WTO International Trade Facilitation Agreement entered by the government of Pakistan, for facilitating trade and related activities to improve the status of Pakistan in the global “ease of doing business” indicator.
Earlier, a legacy paperless system known as WeBOC was in operation as the Single Window for customs, but it was not providing a 100% paperless processing service and the integration of various ministries involved in the international trade process.
The PSW will help parties to submit systemised information and documents with a single-entry point so as to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. It ensures the flawless exchange of information amongst all parties connected to the system in a transparent manner and provides real time updates and access to information to all stakeholders. A unified registration system for the business community, products and entities is to be introduced while integrating registration requirements of customs and other trade regulators into a single form through an electronic portal. Similarly, it will enable the filing of the integrated declaration form, eliminating the need to submit multiple forms.
Electronic licences, permits, certificates and other documents (LPOs) will be issued by trade regulators and customs. The back-end processes related to these LPCOs are also being automated. The PSW will be integrated with other databases such as the NADRA, SECP, and FBR etc., for electronic validations and verifications. It will have the capability for electronic data exchange with internal and external stakeholders.
The success of the PSW system is very much determined by an efficient and effective governance and operating system that is self-sustaining, transparent and innovative; fostering a positive work environment that is flexible to the stakeholders’ needs. The successful implementation of the PSW aims to reduce the costs, time and complication for stakeholders while enhancing controls in cross-border trade. It will substantially reduce paper-based documentation and physical visits for undertaking imports, exports and transit trade. The transparency and predictability with lesser room for interpretation would improve governance and reduce corruption. The PSW implementation will improve Pakistan’s competitiveness and reduce import transactions costs and time to align it with regional averages in South Asia.
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