According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), success stories from countries like Jamaica, Vanuatu, Rwanda, and Timor-Leste, showcase the diverse benefits, including streamlined processes, cost savings, and environmental sustainability, achieved through the adoption of electronic single windows.
ccording to the UNCTAD, Jamaica has experienced a remarkable improvement in its trade facilitation and paperless trade, with its rating soaring from 50.5% in 2017 to an impressive 79.6% in 2023. This significant leap is attributed to the successful implementation of a national electronic single window, a transformative initiative supported by UNCTAD.
The electronic single window, introduced in 2020, revolutionized Jamaica’s trade processes by simplifying, standardizing, and automating the exchange of regulatory information and documents between traders and government agencies.
This strategic move resulted in a notable reduction in the approval time for import and export permits, from three days to just 24 hours. The streamlined processes not only significantly cut costs related to storage and demurrage but also facilitated a 29% increase in imports and a 28% increase in exports in 2022 compared to the previous year.
The success of Jamaica’s electronic single window serves as a compelling example, demonstrating how this tradetech innovation can improve ease of doing business, boost trade volumes, and contribute to economic growth, UNCTAD notes.
Why implement a single window for trade?
The Single Window concept is widely recognised by the UN, WCO, and International Financial Institutions as a highly effective trade facilitation instrument. This is primarily due to the very significant benefits that have resulted from Single Window implementations worldwide. According to UNCTAD, these benefits include:
- Reduction in the time and cost of complying with cross border regulatory processes
- Simplification of regulatory procedures
- Reduction in (or elimination of) paperwork and the need to travel to the various PGAs
- Increased predictability and transparency
- Automation of regulatory processes in line with other business processes
- Electronic payment facilities
- Online, real-time monitoring of consignment status
- Reduction in cost
- Enhanced efficiency of regulatory processes
- Elimination of duplicated processes between agencies
- Higher compliance levels with government regulations
- Enhanced traceability and statistics
- More accurate and often increased revenue yield for customs
- Improved government services (and the perception thereof) • Greater economic competitiveness
- Increased transparency
- Improvement in world rankings for business competitiveness and efficiency (e.g., World Bank Trading Across Borders and Logistics Performance Index)
An electronic single window for trade is one of the most effective measures to enhance trade facilitation in a country. Its potential impact is underscored by its inclusion as an obligation in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
… added Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s technology and logistics director
Furthermore, UNCTAD has published a report, “Roadmap for building a trade single window,” which provides a blueprint for nations to design and implement similar electronic single window systems tailored to their specific needs.