Sunday, 28 April 2013.

31 March 2013

Seven ASEAN Member States have successfully tested the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) architecture in the electronic exchange of intra-ASEAN Preferential Certificates of Origin (ATIGA Form D) and ASEAN Customs Declaration Document (ACDD) data on a test basis. When fully implemented, the ASW, where National Single Windows (NSWs) of Member States integrate and operate, would not only aim to dramatically reduce the time needed to process import and export documents, but also allow businesses to operate more efficiently.

Since 2010, and with support from the U.S. Government, Member States have been designing, implementing, and evaluating a scaled-down Pilot to test the regional architecture in connecting, securely and seamlessly, NSWs of Member States. Having agreed to the architecture design in 2011 participating Member States began to implement this architecture in 2012.

By March 2013, as the Pilot ended, all seven Member States, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam, were able to send and receive a total of over 1,000,000 electronic messages among themselves. Three Member States have also participated in parallel testing whereby scannedhard copies of historical or live ATIGA Form Ds were exchanged over email alongside electronic copies transmitted through the ASW architecture. Once the ASW is “live”, national border agencies, through their NSWs, will be able to affect clearance using the electronic data and without the need for hard copies.

Having successfully tested the architecture, several other key elements need to be in place before live implementation. Of high priority among them is the legal framework, both at the national and regional levels, that, among others, will ensure acceptance of electronic documents in lieu of hard copies, recognize electronic signatures, protect confidentiality and privacy of data, outline clear and consistent rules on data retention and archiving, and set out dispute settlement procedures. Member States are in the process of drafting a regional Legal Framework Protocol while at the same time ensuring that their domestic legislations are appropriately synchronized for NSW and ASW.

Another key step being undertaken by Member States is to identify, analyze, and prioritize business processes and resulting cross-border data, other than ATIGA Form D and ACDD that might be exchanged using the ASW architecture. This exercise will rely on the feedback from both government agencies and private sector in ASEAN. Prioritized data will then need to be standardized and harmonized across ASEAN at the data element level (and not necessarily at the form level) to ensure that electronic data can be exchanged in an understandable format. This activity is currently under way.

Conclusively, since the ASW serves to connect NSWs of Member States, it is key that the latter continue to develop their NSWs and integrate all agencies involved in the border clearance process.

From cross-border exchange of electronic transaction data to the harmonization and standardization of electronic data needed for assessment and clearance of shipments, the ASW will provide a secure and efficient mechanism for communication among the NSWs that reduces the cost of doing business.


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