Challenging times should always be seen as an opportunity rather than a disaster. Because if we do not do anything, we know that disaster will strike us anyway. If we act then, we might find solutions that were always at our reach, but due to many reasons we and/or governments never act upon.
The European Commission proposed a new initiative, on the 28th October, that will make it easier for different authorities involved in goods clearance to exchange electronic information submitted by traders: the EU SINGLE WINDOW ENVIRONMENT FOR CUSTOMS.
The objective of this platform is to enhance cooperation and coordination between different authorities and will support the automatic verification of non-customs formalities for goods entering or leaving the European Union.
Formalities required at the EU’s external borders sometimes demand the presentation of permits and or certificates from many areas like: health, safety, environment, agriculture, fisheries, cultural heritage, market surveillance and product compliance, mainly but not limited to.
With a market value per year of €3,5T, any improvement that can be made to reduce duplication of activities, time and costs are welcome. We need to take care of our economic environment.
The concept behind this initiative is very interesting for 3 reasons:
1 – The supranational nature of the platform
The customs platforms of each country will be prepared to feed this supranational platform. The exercise will oblige to an improvement of their current national platforms in many ways.
2 – The inclusion of non-customs activities
This is a very important issue since complementary activities related to any clearance should always be considered when we talk about border crossing of goods.
3- Information control
Customs and other authorities will be able to collectively use this data, allowing for a fully coordinated approach to goods clearance and a clearer overview at EU level of goods that are entering and leaving the EU.
Also read: OPINION: Covid-19 & the new Incoterms
Customs clearance process do require many often the compliance of other activities, mainly permits and certificates.
The purpose of such a fantastic tool is to provide the sharing of electronic data between government authorities, reducing time and costs of execution and avoiding duplication of activities.
In southern Africa, like in every corner of the world, the pandemic has taken the economies to a huge slowdown due to long confinement periods and borders shutdowns.
The regional organization SADC is not yet a Customs Union but it does have a Free Trade Area for the time being.
The mention above would be a great way to simplify, dematerialize, reduce time and costs of execution in order to accelerate their internal trade in a universe of around 345 million people.
Integration of systems is a very powerful tool for fiscal revenue control.
The process of integration of regional organizations is challenging and require long term vision so that the objectives of such organizations are achieved.
Pedro Monjardino is Managing Partner of Strategio Consulting and was Project Manager of SMC – Mozambican Shipping Company, where he was part of the team that discussed the new Cabotage Law in Mozambique with the Mozambican authorities.