In the area of trading across borders, the reforms recorded by Doing Business in 2015/16 span a wide range—from building or improving hard or soft infrastructure for trade to joining customs unions, digitizing documentation and introducing risk-based inspection systems. These varied endeavors highlight the complexity of international trade.
Ghana is among the economies that heavily invested in electronic systems to facilitate trade. In September 2015 it implemented the first phase of its national single window and ended the contract with Destination Inspection Companies for its Pre-Arrival Assessment program. The certificate of valuation report—which previously was issued by Destination Inspection Companies after a documentary inspection—is no longer required to import goods into Ghana. Instead the customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority now processes the Customs Classification and Valuation Report (CCVR) through the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS), a component of the single window. Through the PAARS system customs brokers and freight forwarders can submit an application form online, attaching scanned supporting documents, and upon assessment by a customs official the CCVR is approved electronically. Because imported products are no longer subject to documentary inspection at origin, documentary compliance time for imports decreased by 206 hours in 2016 (Figure 1).
Yet the full potential of digitization and electronic data interchange systems is not realized immediately. Implementing the systems takes time and involves changes in operational practices, in training and, in some cases, in the work habits of staff. In 2012 Grenada successfully implemented an automated customs data management system, ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data) World. However, in the past year, improvements that have been undertaken gradually since the launch of ASYCUDA World were fully implemented. Grenada’s customs authority has increased the number of customs officials assigned to handle trade documents. The system is also more efficient as customs official and users are now fully trained. And hard copies of clearance documents are no longer required to complete customs clearance processes. This resulted in an additional reduction in border compliance time for imports four years after the introduction of ASYCUDA World.
Paraguay also improved international trade practices in the past year. The country launched the Single Window for Exports (Ventanilla Única de Exportación, VUE) in 2015. The single window has been fully implemented since January 2016 and is working at full capacity. The VUE connects exporters and customs brokers in Paraguay with customs, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, chambers of commerce and sanitary authorities through a single online platform. Exporters in Paraguay can now request phytosanitary inspections and certificates of origin directly through the VUE; the system also allows for processing export customs declarations electronically. As a result of the new single window, exporters have experienced a decrease in the time required for documentary and border compliance.
Vietnam and Morocco are among economies that improved soft infrastructure for trade by allowing electronic submission and processing of documents as well as by using online platforms for the exchange of information between agencies involved in international trade.On April 1, 2014, the Vietnam General Department of Customs (GDC) launched a new electronic customs clearance system, the Vietnam Automated Cargo Clearance System. The system, which became operational for the majority of traders in 2015, allows for the electronic submission of customs declarations, transportation manifests and invoices as well as online payments. Its modules include risk management, document processing, customs clearance, control and supervision. The GDC and other government agencies can now electronically verify relevant information on goods entering and exiting the country. Similarly, the National Port Agency of Morocco advanced the functionality of its electronic single window, PortNet, by partially digitizing the procedure for obtaining the notification documentation issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI). In February 2016 MCI began electronically scheduling this documentation and sharing it directly with customs through PortNet. This has decreased the time needed to process the MCI notification and consequently reduced the time required for border compliance procedures for imports.
Trading across borders reforms by economy DB2008-DB2017
DB 2017: Ghana made trading across borders easier by removing the mandatory pre-arrival assessment inspection at origin for imported products.
DB 2016: Ghana reduced the documentary and border compliance time for importing by developing electronic channels for submitting and collecting the final classification and valuation report.
DB 2015: Ghana made trading across borders easier by upgrading infrastructure at the port of Tema.
DB 2013: Ghana added to the time required to import by increasing its scanning of imports and changing its customs clearance system.
DB 2008: Ghana made trading across borders easier by reducing congestion in the port area.reduce delays.