U.S. Supports Streamlining of Business Processes for Faster Cargo Clearance

Singapore – Thirty trade and customs officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered in Singapore today to discuss streamlining specific import and export processes to prepare for implementation of the ASEAN Single Window (ASW). Effective cargo clearance processes throughout the supply chain are a pivotal first step to allow efficient information flow for the paperless customs processing.  The activity is part of a capacity building program sponsored by the U.S. Government in partnership with ASEAN.

ASEAN Member States agreed to establish their National Single Windows (NSWs) by 2012 and to connect them through a regional Single Window, a cornerstone of establishing the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. Through a NSW, traders electronically submit forms for export, import, and transit procedures only once, and they are processed and cleared by multiple government agencies in a single integrated process. The ASW will provide a secure architecture that allows NSWs to exchange cargo clearance data electronically.

The workshop helped to kick-start the analysis needed to streamline these processes at both national and regional levels. Participants discussed logistics along the supply chain in cross-border trade, and different actors’ roles and responsibilities in each process. They also began prioritizing key business processes for further analysis and possible implementation in the ASEAN Single Window environment.

In addition, government participants engaged with a private sector panel, which provided business views of supply chain challenges. Companies, including Nike, DHL and Procter and Gamble, stressed that streamlining business processes through national and regional single windows would facilitate and promote trade in the region. “The respective National Single Windows and ASEAN Single Window must be able to handle shipment on multi-modal transportation efficiently,” said Simon Koh of DHL Express, representing the Conference of Asia Pacific Express Carriers (CAPEC). “Implementing paperless clearance processes will help businesses and governments reap the full benefits of an electronic trading environment.”

Ms. Marianne Wong chair of the Working Group on Technical Matters for the ASW highlighted the importance of consultations with the private sector. She added that “the public and private sectors have to work together on the NSWs and to ensure maximum compatibility eventually with the ASW.”

This assistance expands on existing U.S. support to ASEAN on establishing the ASW and individual NSWs through expertise from the U.S. Agency for International Development. With U.S. funding, seven ASEAN Member States will soon pilot test a regional data exchange platform towards the full implementation of the ASW.