The ASEAN Single Window refers to the enterprise platform that integrates all the National Single Windows (NSWs) of member states. This network allows for the flow of information via electronic means between member states. The type of information exchange possible through this platform includes (but is not limited to) documentation and information related to cross border movement of cargo. Over the years, countries have experimented with exchanging information related to the use of the ATIGA Free Trade Agreement, however it is widely expected to eventually include the full scope of information in scope of Customs import and export entries.
The intention behind the ASEAN Single Window is to make trade procedures more efficient for traders and Customs authorities alike, with the added benefit of increased compliance rates.
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A major milestone: ASEAN Customs Declaration Document
A significant development milestone of the ASEAN Single Window is the ASEAN Customs Declaration Document, or ACDD.
The ACDD is an electronic electronic document that allows information to be shared between exporting and importing countries. Traders that choose to use this document may ultimately enjoy faster clearance lead times.
As of 7 Jan 2020, the use of the ACDD is not mandatory, and only available between a few countries – Singapore, Cambodia & Myanmar. More members of ASEAN as expected to enable use of the ACDD over time. It is not unimaginable that in future, all members of ASEAN will enable use of this document and slowly transition into making its use the default option, or even mandatory.
Some of the information included in the ACDD transmission are:
- Exporter’s identify number & name
- Consignee’s name & address
- Declaring Agent’s identification number & name
- Expected date of departure
- HS code information
- Shipment quantity information
- Country of origin information
Other documents that could eventually transition to an electronic format are Phytosanitary Certificates, Food Safety Certificates and Animal Health Certificates. As the platform develops, we can expect other documents to go paperless; such as all transport documentation including packing lists and bills of lading.
What does this mean for traders?
Export compliance and import compliance have long been managed separately in international trade. New issues will now arise when Customs in exporting countries and importing countries start to see the same set of data. It remains to be seen how authorities will deal with points of contention between one another – for example, when exporting Country A’s Customs officers disagree with importing Country B’s Customs officers on HS classifications, how will this be resolved? What if both countries already have conflicting rulings on the same product?
Ironically, trade compliance within ASEAN will grow more complex as Customs procedures are simplified.
Since remedies to expected issues are yet to be published by countries or the ASEAN Secretariat, traders can only wait and see. It may, however be a good time for companies to review their existing procedures to fix any glaring errors. This includes ensuring the correct determination of HS codes, correct utilization of Free Trade Agreements and licensing concerns that need to be addressed for their products.
Finally, it must be mentioned that traders should be prepared for a future where non-members of ASEAN also eventually integrate themselves into the ASEAN Single Window and especially be interested in the use of the ACDD.