Previous Page  11 / 132 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 11 / 132 Next Page
Page Background

Enhancing Public Availability of Customs Information

In the Islamic Countries


Against this background, the report makes the following recommendations for the consideration

of OIC member countries:


Generalized Commitment to Transparency

: It is difficult to move forward on the

public availability of Customs and trade-related information in an environment where

other government processes are only minimally transparent. Rather, successful

examples show that reducing informational trade costs typically goes hand in hand with

a broader commitment to transparent, participative governance. The form this takes

will of course vary from country to country, but the greater a government’s proven

commitment to transparency, the more likely it is that the whole trade community will

become positively involved in the process of managing public information availability.


Ensuring Close Cooperation of Key National Partners

: Improving public information

availability requires that a range of border agencies, as well as other regulatory bodies

and public sector organizations, exchange information freely and cooperate towards a

common end. Ensuring such cooperation is often not easy, but can be justified by

reference to the trade benefits that are likely to result.


Involvement of the Trade Community

: The trade community consists of a wide range

of stakeholders, from producers and consumers, to shippers, freight forwarders, and

even financial institutions involved in trade finance, as well as Customs and other

border agencies. An important first step is creating a forum in which the whole

community can exchange views, and identify priority areas for action. An NTFC can

perform this role, but the nature and composition of that body will necessarily vary from

one country to another. In general, it is better to cast the net wide to ensure that all

stakeholders can feel a sense of ownership of reforms.


Use of Information Technology

: Low and middle income countries have the

opportunity to “leapfrog” the traditional Single Window framework by opting for a

virtual Single Window. From an informational point of view, this approach results in an

online portal where all rules and regulations can easily be accessed, forms can be

downloaded and filled in, and necessary paperwork can be filed electronically, as well

as fees paid. Some level of digital infrastructure is required before such a system can

become reality, both in terms of user access to ICTs, but also the necessary legal

framework covering use of electronic documents and digital signatures. Nonetheless,

technical assistance from international organizations, as well as a considerable body of

knowledge that can be used in South-South experience sharing, suggests that this

approach may be within the reach of a considerable number of countries.


Ambition in TFA Notifications

: Improving trade facilitation, including through

enhancing the public availability of Customs and trade-related information, is part of a

newly competitive environment for attracting trade and investment. Joining Global

Value Chains (GVCs) and leveraging them for development outcomes requires that trade

costs be as low as possible. As such, OIC member countries should be ambitious in

notifying their TFA obligations. Concretely, that means they should put as much as

possible of the agreement in Category A. Category B notifications should preferably

involve relatively short time limits for implementation. Category C notifications should

be used sparingly, and should identify with precision the technical assistance and

capacity building that are required. Of course, for those countries that are not members

of the WTO, they are not legally subject to the TFA’s requirements. But it is nonetheless

part of their trading environment, as neighbors and other partner countries will soon

upgrade progress. The TFA therefore still provides a useful benchmark, in tandem with

other relevant instruments, for countries that are not WTO members.