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Govt Piloting Single-Window Customs Clearance For Vehicles

Source: Vientiane Times

The government is piloting the Lao National Single Window (LNSW) scheme at international border crossings, seeking to speed up customs clearance for vehicles and link the country to the Asean single window system.

The Ministry of Finance’s Customs Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport’s Transport Department last week to jointly implement the initiative.

The MOU was signed by Acting Director General of the Customs Department, Mr Bounpaseuth Sikounlabout, and Director General of the Transport Department, Mr Bounta Onenavong, witnessed by other officials from both departments.

Through a national single window, traders electronically submit forms for import, export and transit procedures only once, and these are processed and cleared by government agencies in an integrated manner, resulting in time and cost savings.

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Finance officials said the current system is still inconvenient, causing importers to wait, which costs them time and money. Authorities are currently launching a pilot project at international border crossings and if the results are positive they will fully implement the scheme.

Applying the LNSW shows Laos is keen to move towards an electronic system to facilitate business in a transparent and accountable manner, thereby generating more income for the national budget.

In fact, the LNSW has been implemented by the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Industry and Commerce for several years, which has helped expedite customs clearance for bulk goods imported into Laos.

The success in implementing the system for imported freight clearance inspired authorities to apply the national single window to the customs clearance of vehicles.

Finance officials said fuel and vehicles are the main sources of income for Laos so the government wants to apply the electronic system to facilitate customs clearance for vehicle importers and also catch up with other Asean nations.

Asean member countries have agreed to establish their respective NSWs and link them with an Asean Single Window to further integrate the region’s economies and promote competitiveness.
The Asean Single Window is a cornerstone of the Asean Economic Community which was established in 2015.

Laos is committed to the success of the Asean single window initiative which aims to increase trade and ease of doing business among Asean countries and with external partners outside the region.

The single-window system is a trade facilitation concept. As such, the implementation of a single window system enables cross-border traders to submit regulatory documents at a single location and/or single entity.

Such documents are typically customs declarations, applications for import/export permits, and other supporting documents such as certificates of origin and trading invoices.

Implementation of the Lao National Single Window will help the country improve the ease of doing business and increase trade with other Asean countries and external partners outside the region.