Global Loss from Illegal Trade Touched US$ One Trillion in 2012
Dubai-UAE: 15 May, 2013 – International trade volumes and profitability would receive a welcome impetus if the e-customs ‘Single Window' concept was popularised around the world, as this would help address three main concerns related to cross-border trade namely, reducing costs and cross-border transit time, checking illegal trafficking of goods, and enhancing border security.
This key message emerged as experts and leading customs officials reflected upon the development of the customs sectors within their own countries and regions in a session titled “E-Government: An Added Value to Trade,” at the Middle East debut of the 2013 WCO IT Conference and Exhibition held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The discussion was moderated by David Evans, Head of Tax and Customs Business Unit, Worldwide, BULL Information Systems.
In his keynote speech, Mark Hill from Digital Coding and Tracking Association (DCTA), said: “According to official statistics, the global loss as a result of illegal trade reached about one trillion dollars in 2012, losses resulting from piracy reached over than US$250 billion, while losses resulted by cigarette smuggling topped US$600 billion, and global tax revenues fell by US$40 billion.”
He stressed that this situation requires cooperation, solidarity, and coordination between countries to put an end to illegal trade: “We need to improve legislation, apply new laws, and adopt the latest technologies, e-government applications and tracking solutions. This is in addition to applying international standards for technology and linking them across-borders using mobile applications as an example, and create records for products to ease their tracking and therefore ensure easy exchange of information and procedures to eliminate or reduce illegal trade and smuggling.”
Highlighting the new trends in trade and customs, Nick Small, Director IT Solutions, Crown Agents, said: “Customs officers must possess the capabilities of new generations and not find new technologies challenging for them, especially with the rapid growth of technology capacities, and with the widespread use of the internet and mobile phones to communicate. With the number of mobile phones sold hitting more than 1.7 billion units and expected to reach two billion by 2015, the growing interest for social media is evident and has become a universal means of digital communication. This trend will contribute significantly to the application of e-solutions and e-government and add new value to trade.”
Nick Small also stressed on the need for cooperation between governments and other businesses via the internet and social media, as public and businesses expect their governments to share information and data with them using the single-window. He pointed out that it is crucial for customs administrations to keep pace with the technical progress and to respond to the requirements of trade.
Implementation of single windows, particularly in developing countries, has proven a success story, said Tom Butterly, Deputy Director of the Trade and Sustainable Land Management Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
In his presentation titled 'Single Window 10 Years On: Where are we now and where are we going', he explained a concept of a single window saying: “A ‘single window' is a nationwide facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry point – which is one of the key objectives of deploying an e-government platform – to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. If information is electronic – as is the case when using an e-government portal – individual data elements can only be submitted once.
In his presentation titled 'Single window: Benin cse', Elie Sawaya, Deputy Managing Director, Bureau Veritas, Congo DR, said: “Benin can serve as a great example for successful implementation of the single window system. Lack of visibility over customs revenues and supply chain efficiency were recurrent issues for the Benin government previously. Since the implementation of the Port Single Window, we have registered a boost in states revenues and increased operational transparency. Most of all, it improved efficiency in the supply chain, while Cotonou port waiting time went down from eight days to 48 hours.”
The three-day conference is focused on sharing views, experiences and best practices between global border security agents and other government entities such as customs, environment ministries, municipalities, health authorities, and immigration. It also seeks to broaden communication channels between stakeholders to help maintain safer economies and societies.
The event has brought together over 1,000 senior decision makers representing the World Customs Organization and customs departments of more than 100 countries, including specialists in customs, security and information technology. The forum's agenda includes discussion topics related to customs operations such as control and inspection systems, as well as transport and logistics.