Updated: 7th Jun 2021
Pakistan holds a significant geostrategic location in the South Asian region and this is why it has a huge opportunity to increase international trade. Earlier in April 2021, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched Pakistan Single Window Act 2021 through which ease of doing business in Pakistan would have been enhanced. Taking a step further, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has recently soft-launched Pakistan Single Window Programme (PSWP) which will connect 74 different departments involved in the documentation for imports and exports.
The soft launch is a stepping stone before the system is officially launched to facilitate imports and exports. This will also help in speeding up the process for transitional trade by expediting clearance and movement of goods in transit. In the year 2020 alone, 2.4 million containers were processed for both imports and exports. With the launch of this system, the efficiency of the authorities and customs will be increased and the cost of clearing a container will be decreased.
Cost Comparison With Other Countries
The cost of doing business was higher as compared to other countries in the South Asian region. The only missing piece of the puzzle was Pakistan Single Window (PSW), which will be implemented at a total cost of USD 67 million.
An import container costs Pakistan USD 417, while India and South Korea incur USD 366 and USD 342, respectively. Similarly, exporting a container costs Pakistan around USD 406, while India and South Korea have to shell out USD 64 and USD 196, respectively.
Time Comparison With Other Countries
Earlier, 74 departments were involved in the documentation process, which will now be done from a single point. This will enable the authorities to do better work and more efficiently.
Using the conventional method, it took 216 hours in total to import a container in Pakistan. However, a similar process in India and South Korea takes 85 hours and 7 hours respectively. Exporting a container in Pakistan takes 113 hours and in India and South Korea, it takes 207 hours and 14 hours respectively.
Once the system is officially and successfully implemented, the Web-based One Customs (WeBOC) system will be connected with the banking channels and other institutions of Pakistan to enhance efficiency and reduce the time taken for different processes. Furthermore, it will improve Pakistan’s image with regards to ease of doing business and resultantly attract more foreign direct investment, as stated by the head of FPCCI’s Central Standing Committee on Customs.
In the second week of April 2021, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) inaugurated the Pakistan Single Window (PSW) company, which will streamline the customs processes and eliminate the requirement of providing the same information at multiple points and departments. As part of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), it was important to set up a single-window operation in Pakistan to better facilitate cross-border trade.
What Is Pakistan Single Window (PSW)?
Pakistan Single Window (PSW) is a technology-based facility in Pakistan that allows all the parties and departments involved in trading to submit the credentials, information and submit documents only once for import, exports and transit-related regulatory requirements in the country. The aim of launching PSW is not only to speed up the process but also to save hundreds of millions of dollars on the way.
In 2013 during the Bali Ministerial Conference, the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded negotiations for Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). As per TFA, the member countries will expedite the movement and clearance of goods and cargo including those in transit. The agreement further sets measures for cooperation between customs and other authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance.
Pakistan ratified the TFA in October 2015 and establishing a single window in Pakistan was in compliance with the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Features Of Pakistan Single Window (PSW)
Prime Minister Imran Khan is confident that the implementation of the Pakistan Single Window (PSW) will put millions of dollars in annual savings of Pakistan. Now that we know what is PSW, here are some key features of PSW that will help you understand better its purpose and importance:
- Integrated Declaration: Information will be digitized and it will eliminate sending separate applications to customs and other government departments.
- Automated Routing: PSW will identify and automatically notify any government agency if their goods require licenses, permits, certificates or any other document (LPCOs).
- Connected Government and Paperless Processing: Back-end processes related to cross-border trade will be automated to ensure paperless transactions and connected governments. It will also simplify and improve government controls to achieve regulatory compliance.
- Risk Assessment: PSW will incorporate risk assessment for customs as well as other government departments to ensure that the consignments are selected for examination based on risk assessment. This will facilitate genuine trade.
- Port Community System: PSW will improve efficiency and transparency as well as enable a real-time cargo tracking facility.
- E-payments: The PSW will have an e-payment system that will eliminate the need to visit banks, ports and OGAs for separate payments.
- Knowledge Management: PSW is a robust trade portal that provides a knowledge-based management system in cross border trade.
- Value-Added Services: A help desk will be set for users and an appointment system for e-appointments.
Benefits of Pakistan Single Window
As discussed earlier, setting up Pakistan Single Window (PSW) was a requirement of the TFA. The deadline for delivering PSW was June 2022 but it has been delivered one year earlier. The customs had reduced the cost to USD 67 million which was initially set at USD 163 million.
Some of the benefits of Pakistan Single Window (PSW) are as follows:
- Reduced costs
- Reduced time
- Less complicated process
- Better compliance
- Cross border trade regulations
- PSW will boost exports and increase FDI
- Saving millions of dollars in annual savings
- PSW will be managed by independent authority
- Pivotal in unlocking Pakistan’s potential to become hub for international trade and transit
- Integrated 75 regulatory departments
Pakistan Single Window (PSW) will not only boost cross border trade but also enable transparency and live tracking of goods and cargo. Clearing cargo and goods from customs took days but with the launch of PSW, the process will only take hours.
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