THE ASSOCIATION of Southeast Asian Nations recently moved a step closer towards regional integration with the formal launch of the ASW Web Portal, the official website containing information on the development and progress of the ASEAN Single Window project and National Single Windows of members of the group.
“The ASEAN Single Window or ASW is a technological environment where NSWs (National Single Windows) of member countries operate and integrate,” Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon said in his keynote speech at the event on May 8 at The Peninsula Manila.
The launch was hosted by the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs, the lead government agency in the undertaking.
The ASW is an online trade facility that connects and integrates the NSWs of ASEAN member countries. Its objective is to speed up cargo clearance and ensure that exchange of data between parties is secure and reliable. ASW’s main goal is to make processing time of data simpler, faster and more transparent.
The idea of creating the ASW was conceived in 2003 during the 9th ASEAN Summit held in Bali, Indonesia, when ASEAN heads of state agreed to establish an online trade facility to expedite cargo clearance.
In 2004, ASEAN economic ministers agreed to form a task force that will create a model for the ASW. A protocol was signed to establish and implement the ASW in 2005.
From there, meetings, steering and technical committees and workshops were formed.
Since 2010, member countries have been designing, implementing, and evaluating a scaled-down pilot version of the portal to test the connectivity of their NSWs. The final architectural design was agreed in 2011.
The development and functionalities of the portal and its final design, funded under the USAid Advance Program, were completed in December last year. Technical administration and user acceptance were tested January this year.
In March, the pilot ended and seven ASEAN member countries had successfully tested the ASW architecture.
“We still have a lot more to do before the right implementation of the ASW. Currently, we are in the midst of conducting a business process analysis to identify feasible transactions and relevant data, information and documents for cross-border trade,” ASW Technical Working Group chairperson Marianne Wong said in a presentation.
Member countries are in the process of drafting a regional legal framework protocol and ensuring that their local laws are synchronized for both NSW and ASW.
“In this era where business is borderless and competitiveness is a crucial standard, it is imperative that we take full advantage of what technology offers in making us realize our goals in establishing an efficient, reliable and secure system of exchange in information and services across and among our partner countries,” Biazon said.
The ASW web portal will be handled by a technical committee to be assigned by the ASEAN Secretariat. A presentation is available on the web on how the portal works (http://asw.asean.org/images/ASW_Animation.swf).
Present in the launch were Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran, diplomats from other ASEAN countries, the ASW web portal team, and stakeholders.
Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net