Article: Ihsan Ali Shah Additional Director, Directorate General Of Reforms & Automation (Customs)

Ihsan Ali Shah Additional Director, Directorate General Of Reforms & Automation (Customs)

WCO Data Model and WeBOC

The WCO (World Customs Organization) has called up on all members to further promote efforts and initiatives in a sector that is becoming key element in Customs modernization process i.e. Collecting and Analyzing data. It is in this context, that the year 2017 has been dedicated by WCO to promoting data analysis under the slogan “Data Analysis for Effective Border Management.”

  1. 02. The data analysis acquires criticality while making informed decisions, especially when the Customs Administrations are faced by sophisticated and evolving challenges every day. Data analysis thus can greatly support core Customs’ objectives of not only revenue collection but also border security, collection of trade statistics and boosting trade facilitation at the same time. The Data Analysis however can be well supported when there is harmonization of data which can be achieved through WCO Data Model. It would not only contribute to improvement in data collection but also enable smooth sharing of data between government and cross border agencies. Besides it will provide the platform for exchange of AEI (Advance Electronic Information) and Advance Cargo Declaration etc. Therefore adaption of WeBOC to WCO Data Model would be an important development for customs clearance process. It may be high time to learn about it.
  2. The Data Model prescribed by WCO (World Customs Organization) is a collection of international standards on data and infor­mation required by government agencies in relation to regulation of cross-border trade. This collection has been developed by WCO after examination of all rele­vant international instruments and guide­lines, along with national and industry practice, with the objective of achieving a consensus on the manner in which data will be used in applying regulatory con­trols in global trade. The Data Model contains data elements which are logically grouped into units of meaningful information, called “information models”. These information models serve as reusable building blocks with which one can build electronic docu­ment and data exchange templates.
  3. Currently, there are at least three international “data models” which organize data elements and standardize how the data elements relate to one another. The first and the oldest is United Nations (UN) Trade Data Element Directory (TDED) which is closely linked to paper-based forms and contains information about location of each data element on a standard paper layout. Nonetheless, it continues to remain relevant even in the electronic environment as it provides basis for UN Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for Administration. Second is UN/EDIFACT which comprises a set of inter­nationally agreed standards, directories and guidelines for the electronic inter­change of structured data, and in par­ticular, that related to trade in goods and services between independent, computerized information systems. TDED helps construct UN/EDIFACT components which are commonly used in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Thirdly, the Core Components Library (CCL) could be said to be a further development on TDED. The WCO Data Model draws heavily from the aforesaid standards. First, it is by and large cross-referenced to TDED. Second, the WCO Data Model is also expressed through a standard UN/EDIFACT GOVCBR (Government Cross-Border Regulatory) message.  Third, the modeling principles of WCO Data Model are largely similar to CCL, as both are based on Core Component Technical Specifications
  4. The first version 1.0 of Data Model was launched by WCO in 2001  The latest in the evolution is version 3.6.0 which has been finalized in May 2016 by WCO Data Model Project Team (DMPT). It stands as a collection of international standards on data and information required not only by Customs, but also by government agencies, developed with the objective of achieving a consensus on the manner in which data will be used in applying regulatory facilitation and controls in global trade. The latest Data Model contains data sets for different border procedures, including definitions of data elements, recommended data formats and suggested code lists. It also includes Information Packages, which are standard electronic templates linked to business processes such as Goods Declarations, Cargo Reports, Conveyance Reports, Licenses/Permits, and Certificates. It is a library of data components and electronic document templates that can be used to effectively exchange business data.
  5. Pakistan Customs is using WeBOC(Web based One Customs)  for automated customs clearance of the goods. The system is in operation since 2011/12 and is constantly growing ever since. At present it is catering to almost all customs operations from seaports, airports, dry ports to borders; and is meeting almost all core requirements for clearance of goods including various ancillary and peripheral processes. The work on WeBOC connectivity with INTRA (Integrated Regulatory Authorities) is also actively in progress and the connectivity with some of Regulatory Authorities outside FBR has already been achieved such as EDB Quota, State bank of Pakistan and the Banks, Provincial Taxation Departments, Ministry of Climate Change and   Trade Development Authority etc.  Soon as the INTRA are connected to WeBOC, it would then be ready as Single Window Platform for interoperability with regional Single Windows through Electronic Data Exchange (EDE). The need for mapping WeBOC to a certain WCO Data Model in view of challenge of data harmonization that would be required while establishing EDE (Electronic Data Exchange) with regional administrations.  The WCO Data Model Package resolves EDE issues as it offers standardized set for member countries to adopt.
  6.             WCO Data Model can be implemented with or without a cross-border Single Window environment; however greater benefits can be derived from WCO Data Model if implementation takes into account multilateral data exchange i.e. Single Window environment. It is however pertinent to observe that a new software project for the development of a Single Window environment or a core application for customs automation is ideally suited to fully implement the WCO Data Model. The WCO Data Model documentation is of immense value to such new projects. However since Pakistan Customs already have a fully developed software system namely WeBOC; there are chances that it may be quite challenging to accommodate the changes in data elements already defined in its environment. The adoption of WCO DM would thus be an extensive exercise requiring considerable effort in terms of resource and time as the process requires fundamental changes in the pre-defined formats of data elements/structures.  However this would provide opportunity to make WeBOC achieve compliance with WCO Data Model as well as up-gradation.  The Directorate General of Reforms & Automation is already in the process of procurement of WCO Data Model from WCO through FBR.
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