Ease of Business: Pakistan Gears Up for Single Window Trade

The Pakistani government is on its way to establishing a system that streamlines the cross-border movement of goods and “regulatory bottlenecks.” The system is called the Pakistan Single Window (PSW), in compliance with World Trade Organization provisions. The said implementation is to be concluded by 2022.

The estimated cost of implementation is $67 million. The aim is to improve the efficiency of doing business as well as enhance controls through integrated risk management.

According to a senior customs officer, the phase 1 of the implementation shall be concluded by the end of 2020. This will encompass 80 percent volume of various licenses, permits, certificates, and other documents currently issued to regulate trade.

This program comprises of phased establishment of an ICT-based platform concerning simplification, harmonization, and automation of regulatory processes related to cross-border trade. Moreover, it also includes the functioning of a port community system to enable related logistics.

Concerning the government’s protocols on imports, exports and transit trade in 2020, according to a World Bank report, economic operators sustained $500 million more costs in Pakistan than their counterparts in South Asia, all to comply with these regulations. For instance, the dwell time for clearance of cargo in Pakistan is a couple of days as compared to the number of hours in other countries.

PSW Bill 2020

The PSW Bill 2020 was developed with the agreement of all stakeholders. It was presented by the Pakistani government in parliament on June 8. Upon approval of the Bill, operations will commence.

Awareness of the country’s lack of effective regulatory controls at borders and ports in compliance with international standards brought about a need for NSW. In the meantime, the Federal Board of Revenue is in the process of completing the conversion of eight-digit Pakistan Customs Tariff to 12 digits.

ICT-Driven Trade

The management of external trade is incompetent and impervious owing to several dozens of regulatory authorities working in silos in a paper-based environment.

Under the WTO’s Agreement on Trade Facilitation, Pakistan chose to execute NSW in October 2017. Currently, there is a non-existence of facilities such as Port Community System, Trade Inform­ation Portal, Integrated Risk Mana­gement and Unified Registration, and so on. However, according to customs, the PSW will inaugurate, sustain and develop ICT-based NSW platforms as well as the aforementioned facilities.

The PSW Company has been incorporated under the Companies Act, 2017. Seed money has been provided by Customs from its GD fee fund. The PSWC model is to act on a cost-recovery model while being responsible for the product rollout. This is unlike the Pakistan Revenue Automation Ltd.

Every decision is to be reviewed before implementation by a high-level steering committee. Chaired by the finance minister, along with significant federal secretaries. The president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry is also on the committee.

By: Wardah Javaid

Source: DAWN