KARACHI: Pakistan Customs is all set to implement electronic origin data exchange under China-Pakistan free trade agreement (FTA), which would enable real time recording of trade between the two countries and help curb revenue evasion as well as money laundering.

Directorate General of Reforms & Automation – Customs has developed the software in this regard and user acceptance testing by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has also been concluded. Presently, the testing of electronic message exchange through the software is in progress between the technical teams of China and Pakistan. The system shall be available for live data exchange upon completion of testing.

Imports from China constitute a significant part of Pakistan’s total imports, which opened doors for under-invoicing aimed at revenue evasion as well as over-invoicing aimed at moving out foreign exchange in an organized manner.

A trader requesting anonymity said under-invoicing and revenue evasion was one part of the damage, China-Pakistan FTA inflicted on local industry and economy.

Quite recently, Pakistan Customs detected large scale money laundering through gross over invoicing of solar PV panels imported from China, and advocated concerted efforts involving State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and by extension commercial banks.

Earlier in June last year, Pakistan Solar Association (PSA) in their representation to Customs authorities shared actionable information regarding money laundering through over-invoicing of solar PV panels and requested investigation into the matter. The investigations had revealed that the said goods were being imported into Pakistan from China at double the rates prevailing in the international market.

The official said implementation of electronic data exchange between China and Pakistan under Pak China FTA would facilitate trade and help combating commercial frauds.