[caption id="attachment_32230" align="alignleft" width="200"] MR. M. HAMMAD AZHAR MINISTER OF STATE FOR REVENUE[/caption] MINISTER OF STATE FOR REVENUE

With the passage of time, effective border management by Customs has become increasingly complicated due to rapid globalization and expanding international trade. This has rendered diversification of the role of Customs Administrations inevitable. Customs is now responsible not only for revenue collection but also for safeguarding society from possible threats to public health and security.

In order to emphasize Custom’s pivotal role in securing borders for trade facilitation, the World Customs Organization (WCO) has selected the theme for swift and smooth cross-border movement of goods, people and means of transport” with the slogan “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport” for International Customs Day, 2019. With Customs administrations around the world interacting with global supply chains, best international practices need to be adopted to ensure the seamless movement of goods, conveyances and people across borders. Increased automation is the key to this and Pakistan Customs’ WeBOC system of automated cargo clearances enables the employment of risk management tools for targeted enforcement interventions, thereby contributing to a more predictable regional and global trade landscape. [the_ad id="31605"] In the backdrop of worldwide preoccupation with security, international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and terrorist financing, Customs administrations are expected to maintain a fine balance between the smooth flow of goods and the simultaneous protection of the nation’s borders from the entry of illegal and potentially dangerous items. SMART borders are the solution in this regard. The SMART border entails harmonized Customs procedures at the border; collaboration between nations for advance information sharing; partnering across borders to reduce costs; and employing risk-based decision making through increased automation.

It is commendable that Pakistan Customs is already on the right track in this regard with Pakistan’s ranking on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey, 2018 having improved from 147th to 136th place.  With implementation of the National Single Window, for which Pakistan Customs has been declared lead agency, government functions at the border will be consolidated and cost of doing business will be reduced further. The planned installation of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) shall enable advance sharing of information in the near future for more effective facilitation of legitimate passengers. Last but not the least, establishment of the Customs National Targeting Centre shall allow Pakistan Customs to focus on and to prevent the menace of money laundering and terrorist financing.

Finally, I extend warm felicitations to Pakistan Customs on this auspicious occasion and hope that Pakistan Customs shall continue to follow the path of automation and collaborative border management for trade facilitation and cohesive policy making in order to ensure a safe business environment that encourages trade and investment.

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