Bangladesh: Deal signed for single window to boost trade

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Some 38 government and private sector agencies have signed a memorandum of understanding to speed up the process of clearing imported and exportable goods under a National Single Window (NSW).

The electronic gateway will allow businesses to submit information related to imports and exports to regulatory authorities only once to clear their goods from the ports.

The single entry point will deliver a user-friendly, electronic system that streamlines and automates procedures for international trade-related permits, licences, certificates and customs declarations, said the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

Once fully introduced, the NSW, which will connect the 38 agencies electronically, will benefit 319,000 Bangladeshi traders by cutting time and cost.

The average processing time for imports is expected to come down to 122 hours and the average processing time for exports to 88 hours.

 “This is potentially a significant and vital step to facilitate trade,” said Finance Minister AMA Muhith at the MoU signing ceremony at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka.

 “Implementation of the NSW will be beneficial for businesses,” said Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed.

The government has undertaken the NSW scheme at $74 million with funds from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the UK's DFID. The customs authority will be the lead agency to implement the electronic gateway.

The NSW came at a time when Bangladesh scored 34.9 in the “Distance to Frontier” indicator in the Doing Business Index 2018, far below the South Asian regional average of 57.8 and behind countries such as Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.

The measurement is based on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest performance and 100 represents the highest performance.

Estimates suggested that modern customs and border clearance procedure can reduce the cost of trading for the lower middle-income countries such as Bangladesh, said Khondaker Muhammad Aminur Rahman, a member for customs audit, modernisation and international trade of the NBR.

Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said, “As I understand, we will get a relief from submitting multiple documents thanks to the introduction of the NSW.”

 “We look forward to its speedy and effective implementation,” he said. NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan also spoke. The NBR and the IFC jointly organised the event.

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