Asean Single Window Expansion Pushed

ASEAN Expansion pushed

Member-countries are eyeing to expand the Asean Single Window initiative through measures that will not only make it easier to use but also more inclusive.

Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said that during last week’s symposium on the Asean Single Window in Singapore, “the stakeholders (private sector, governments, and dialogue partners) agreed that the benefits of the Asean Single Window to Asean member-states are huge in terms of trade facilitation; reduced cost, time and effort in doing business; compliance with trade agreements and tax laws; and enhancing security of documents exchanged.”

As such, the member-countries recommended to expand the initiative, and allow, for example, the exchange of more documents such as cargo documents, shipping manifests as well as port and transport documents, Beltran said.

Also part of the recommendations for the Asean Single Window’s expansion are additional ancillary functions such as tariff finder instrument and Asean trade data repository; Asean-wide self-certification of certificates of origin; and online authentication of documents and signatures, he added.

According to Beltran, also among the recommendations are socialized procedures to allow for more micro, small and medium enterprise participation; exchanges of documents with dialogue partners; and capacity-building activities for Asean member-states.

So far, “the national single windows of each country (especially Singapore) have incorporated additional features to promote trade and policymaking, including: Risk assessment and profile management; efficient and predictable supply chains; port management; data privacy and management; provision of services such as logistics provision, trade finance, cargo insurance, etc.; online payment systems for revenues and fees; processing of import and export permits of regulated products; government-to-government transactions with trading partners; freight management, container booking, and fleet optimization; and cross-industry transactional data,” according to Beltran.

In February, Beltran said that in relation to the move to make trade across the Asean region seamless, “the initial tests on the country’s interconnection with other [neighboring] economies, starting with Indonesia via the Asean Single Window, had been successful, with development and testing to continue in the next few weeks.”

Beltran, who is also the DOF’s anti-red tape czar, said the interconnection tests under the Asean Single Window will proceed not only in the Philippines but also in Brunei and Cambodia.

Locally, the DOF and the Department of Information and Communications Technology last December launched the TradeNet platform under the National Single Window, in which 76 agencies must participate to make the system fully operational.

“The TradeNet platform for traders, which will also serve as the Philippines’ link to the Asean Single Window gateway, is expected to minimize the costs of doing business and cut the processing time for the issuance of import and export permits,” Beltran said.