Farheen Zahra & Malaika Jaffari.

Customs administrations across the world are facing expanding responsibilities due to changes, brought by globalization, such as increase in trade volumes, international security threats, seamless integration with international supply chains and a rise in international trade agreements.

As Dean Kamen said, “Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”

Advancement in technology in recent years has completely changed the world outlook. With automation in every field, continuous efforts are required to remain relevant in the existing changing scenario.

Similarly, in order to cater and adapt to rapidly changing international trading environment, Pakistan Customs is consistently reforming existing procedures and workflow in compliance with international commitments that may enable it to be more responsive and to address the growing role of trade facilitation and to promote export led growth.

Pakistan Customs, with the use of technology, is refining existing procedures to implement best international practices in order to adopt a globalized modern approach towards facilitation and unification of trade.

Many initiatives have been adopted in trade processes among which Pakistan Single Window is the most important initiative which provides one-stop electronic platform for lodging of trade documents, promoting cross-border customs co-operation and expediting trade declarations and customs clearances.

Pakistan Customs, being a signatory of TIR convention, is connected through land route with the neighboring countries, but lately an automated multi-modal facility for processing TIR cargo through sea ports has also been introduced, which will open up new avenues to the country’s regional and international trade.

Moreover, a dedicated transit trade portal has been developed that provides real time tracking of transit cargo and online lodging of complaints against delays in clearance of transit goods, which will result in increasing the efficiency and transparency of the trade.

Exports from Pakistan have shown an exponential growth in four months reaching to US$2.4 billion in December, 2000 as compared to US $ 16 billion in August 2020, showing about 50 percent growth.

In the backdrop of pandemic Covid-19, to make Pakistani products competitive vis-à-vis its competitors in the International Market, a risk based automated duty drawback payment system has been introduced in which duty drawback claims of exporters, on the basis of risk profile, are processed and an electronic payment advice is generated to State Bank of Pakistan, for direct disbursement of the same to the bank accounts of exporters.

Duty draw-back of at least eight sectors were revised upwards by FBR and more than 7800 exports have yet been benefited from this initiative.

Recently, a pilot project of Authorized Economic Operator Programmed has been launched in Karachi wherein, trusted traders with clean profiles are given priority in WeBOC for speedy clearance resulting in enabling the trusted traders to become part of the global AEO community for seamless movement of their cargo through international borders.

A new module of Automated Customs duty exemption regime has also been introduced which is a very important initiative as it has reduced the time of receiving of requisite document / certificate from other Government authorities like EDB, AEDB etc, by uploading documents through its WeBOC User-ID, whenever required.

Moreover, in order to enhance the ease of doing business, an online duty calculator has been launched wherein anyone interested in knowing the applicable duty / taxes on any item intended to be imported into Pakistan from abroad can calculate it without the requirement of any ID or password.

To strengthen counter-smuggling operations, Pakistan Customs has launched an online counter-smuggling portal for maintaining a database to monitor and identify the smuggled goods and actors involved in it.

In this system, online electronic detention / seizure memos, lodging of FIRs and investigation recordings are maintained. The portal also provides the facility to Customs for management of seized smuggled goods through its state warehouse management module.

Pakistan Customs remains committed to innovation and progress to address new challenges faced on a day to day basis. A reformed, technologically advanced Customs shall be able to efficiently perform its multiple critical roles of trade facilitation, enforcement and protection of borders, market, environment, cultural heritage and internal security thus enabling Pakistan to actualize its growth and prosperity potential.