MINISTER FOR FINANCE, REVENUE & ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
This year’s International Customs Day, 2019 carries a special significance as it coincides with the launch the World Customs Organization (WCO)’s year of “Swift and Smooth Cross-Border Movement of Goods, People and Means of Transport” with the slogan “SMART Borders for Seamless Trade, Travel and Transport”.
With the growth of global commerce, Customs Administrations worldwide are increasingly spearheading efforts to protect the domestic economies from a range of accompanying risks including terrorist groups, organized crime and emerging technology. The concept of ‘Smart Borders’ envisions safer, more standardized and cost-effective borders through automation, security, measurable parameters, risk management and new technology for the uninterrupted flow of people and goods.
Pakistan Customs’ efforts in this direction are commendable. With the launch of the automated Cargo Clearance System (WeBOC) across Pakistan, not only dwell time for cargo clearance reduced considerably, but Customs authorities now have access to a more reliable database for effective enforcement of cross-border trade through targeted risk management. It is expected that once the National Single Window is in place (for which Pakistan Customs is the lead agency), it will become even easier for Customs, businesses and other governmental and inter-governmental agencies to work seamlessly to secure and facilitate legitimate trade while ensuring sustained streams of revenue. Indeed, in the modern global scenario, constantly evolving threats to international trade require not only inter-agency cooperation and dialogue across international jurisdictions but also open engagement with all stakeholders including the business community.
Pakistan Customs’ active participation in International collaborative initiatives such as the WCO’s Programme Global Shield, Container Control Programme and Strategic Trade Control Enforcement Programme has also contributed towards sustainability of global supply chains. Furthermore, it gives me pleasure to note that Pakistan has climbed up in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey, 2018 from 147th to 136th place. I expect that with continued efforts by Pakistan Customs to provide for security without sacrificing mobility through SMART borders, this ranking is likely to improve even further.
Finally, on the occasion of International Customs Day, 2019, I wish Pakistan Customs the best for its present and future endeavors to manage SMART borders for facilitation of legitimate travelers, cargo and other stakeholders while enabling targeted interventions against illicit and threatening activity. It is important that Pakistan become an integral part of a global border management solution to handle the ever-changing threats that hinder international trade and travel.