I extend my heartfelt felicitations to the Customs fraternity on the International Customs Day being celebrated on 26th January, 2021. The slogan for this year’s International Customs Day is “Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain”. In wake of COVID-19, the World Customs Organization (WCO) has dedicated this year to the united efforts of Customs across the world to support people and businesses by strengthening the global supply chain. Thus, throughout 2021, Pakistan Customs will be focusing on emerging from the global pandemic and support people and businesses by strengthening the global supply chain, reinforcing collaboration, harnessing technology and putting “people” at the center of the transformation process. It will be moving to reconstruction in the wake of COVID-19 by embracing digital transformation by further paying particular attention to automation, the use of innovative technologies, and the adoption of collaborative approaches with all stakeholders along the supply chain.
The economic impact of COVID-19 on the world has been colossal with considerable disruption of global supply chains. Pakistan Customs played its effective role in trade recovery during pandemic period by ensuring 24/7 clearance of Cargo at Ports/Airports and land borders stations, while ensuring expeditious clearance of medicines, food items, and equipment pertaining to treatment of Corona Virus. Dedicated email and helpline was established for single contact facility to accommodate all trade related queries/grievances for mitigation by the Customs authorities. In order to ensure smooth flow of trade, active communication and cooperation was established with Customs-to-Customs, Customs-to-Business and Customs-to-other government agencies.
Pakistan Customs is cognizant of the fact that in the post COVID scenario, world has to embrace advanced technologies including all-digital and paperless clearance methods, and the use of technology for implementing effective controls and facilitating, enhancing and accelerating processes. Building on the lessons learned, Pakistan Customs has taken a fresh perspective on how goods are being cleared. After ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), it has chalked out a comprehensive plan for its implementation. Consistent with the ‘SAFE Framework’ developed by the WCO, the Pakistan Customs is working on developing a plan for implementation of an AEO Program connecting all the stakeholders in international cargo supply chain ranging from importers, exports, clearing agents, port operators to transporters and freight forwarders across borders. To support Pakistan’s effort to balance trade facilitation and security, the WCO has provided assistance on Risk Management including setting up National Targeting Center, and ICT and AEO. Moreover, implementation of other Categories of commitments under TFA such as Advance Rulings, Average Release Times studies, Trade related Information through Internet, Expedited Shipments, Border Agency Cooperation etc are all aimed to increase trade facilitation and improve index of ease of doing business in Pakistan. Pakistan Customs has also embarked upon a project to establish state-of-the-art border complexes at its land borders with Afghanistan and India under the Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS).
National Single Window is a platform that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents using a single-entry point to fulfill all import, export and transit related regulatory requirements; it is a significant step towards digital transformation and trade facilitation of Pakistan’s cross border trade. Through World Bank’s sponsored project, Pakistan Raises Revenue, Automated Entry Exit Control System (AEES) will be introduced for improved cargo control and surveillance at crossing points.
Based upon the lessons learnt from pandemic challenge, Pakistan Customs has adopted a new way of preparedness of their staff through awareness raising and capacity building for the provision of a professional service delivery through integrity. Pakistan Customs resolves that integrity in its operations will take a center stage aimed at actively promoting its efforts and activities for bolstering “Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain”.
Wishing you all a happy International Customs Day!