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13 March 2010

Asean to finalise draft on Single Window project

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Asean is pushing for the integration of its members in the Asean Single Window (ASW) project, which will allow signatory countries to exchange import and export data online, the Jakarta Post reported.

“There will be an Asean customs director general meeting in Kuching, Malaysia, from March 23 to 30 to finalize the MoU draft on the ASW,” Indonesian National Single Window (NSW) technical team chief Susiwijono Mugiharso said Friday at a conference at the Trade Ministry.

The NSW project, which was introduced in December 2007 at Jakarta‘s Tanjung Priok Port, was part of Indonesia’s attempt to comply with ASW requirements by 2009.

The ASW project was initially expected to be fully implemented in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Thailand and Singapore by the end of last year, but the target was missed due to technicalities in each country’s NSW system, as well as Singapore’s reluctance to join.

Despite its reluctance to take part in the project, Singapore has reportedly exchanged export and import data online with major economies such as China, Korea and Japan.

“We’ll ask each country to sign the MoU later. Although the MoU won’t be legally binding, it’s the only option we have,” Susiwijono said.

He said state officials were “discussing” the possibility of including in the MoU consequences for Asean members who refused to participate in the ASW project. He also said the drafting of the MoU was hampered by legal issues, business processes and the status of exchanged data.

However, he admitted that it would be hard to “find the proper instrument to justify” someone’s act “in a legal frame” as there were no regulations in place covering the exchange of data across borders.

“If there are legal issues, our law enforcers cannot touch perpetrators in other countries,” Susiwijono said.

He added that legal issues could arise if, for example, someone falsified an export or import document with a fake signature.

It would be hard to verify the authenticity of the signature without online exchanged data because of advanced technology, he said.

“Additionally, the customs office receives thousands of documents every day,” Susiwijono said. He added that the ASW project was important for all Asean countries, including Indonesia, as imports from other Asean countries into Indonesia accounted for 26 percent of total imports.

“Asean is the largest importer to Indonesia, followed by China, which accounts for 17 percent of Indonesia’s imports,” he said. “So, Asean absolutely needs exchanged electronic data on export and import activities,” he added.

To date, only four countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei — are linked by the ASW project, although not at full capacity, Susiwijono said. He said all 10 Asean countries were expected to fully implement the ASW system by the end of 2012.


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