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Monday, September 26, 2022

Single Window for trade to be finally implemented – The Morning

Must read

  • Cabinet approves PM’s proposal to implement in three phase
  • $ 15 mn to be secured from World Bank for the purpose
  • SL signed agreement for Single Window with WTO in 2017

By Imesh Ranasinghe

Sri Lanka will soon implement the National Single Window portal, after many years of delay, according to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) signed with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2017.

The Cabinet approved the proposal presented by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as Finance Minister to implement the project in three phases at an estimated cost of approximately $ 15 million, while it is expected to secure this amount from the World Bank and other stakeholders. 

According to the agreement, Sri Lanka is obliged to establish and maintain a place (a Single Window) to submit documents and data required to be submitted to the authorities of participatory trade (Import, Export, and Re-shipping). A formal plan for the project was prepared in 2018 under the auspices of the World Bank. 

In 2016, Sri Lanka ratified the TFA and a Secretariat was established for the National Trade Facilitation Committee to drive much-needed trade reforms in the country. 

According to the Advocata Institute, the level of Sri Lanka’s implementation of commitments under TFA stands at 34.9% at the moment, with a timeframe ranging from 2017 to 2030. 

Reforms include the Trade Information Portal, streamlining customs processes, and revamping the systems for post-clearance audits. However, the progress of one of the key reforms, the National Single Window (NSW), has been stalled. Deviating from the initial time frame of completing the Single Window in December 2022, the target date has been delayed to 2030. 

The World Bank shared the operational model of the portal by March 2018, which looks at models built on the implementation phase as well as the operational phase of the blueprint.

When The Morning Business contacted the Department of Commerce to inquire into why the project was delayed, its Acting Director General Ananda Dharmapriya said that they no longer handle the National Single Window project, and that it has been handed over to the Treasury.

When asked about how it will be implemented, Department of Public Enterprises Director General P.A.S. Athula Kumara (whose department is one of the regulatory agencies of the project) said that they have not yet been informed how imports and exports will be integrated into the system. When asked why the project had been delayed, he stated he did not know who was handling it.

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