KARACHI: Pakistan is on the verge of launching electronic origin data exchange, which would enable real time recording of trade between the two countries and help curb revenue evasion as well as money laundering, an official said.
Directorate General of Reforms & Automation – Customs has developed the software in this regard and user acceptance testing by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has also been concluded.
“Presently, the testing of electronic message exchange through the software is in progress between the technical teams of China and Pakistan,” the official said.
The official added that the system, being developed under China-Pakistan free trade agreement (FTA), would be available for live data exchange after the completion of testing.
Imports from China constitute a significant part of Pakistan’s total imports, which opened doors for under-invoicing aimed at revenue evasion as well as over-invoicing aimed at moving out foreign exchange in an organized manner.
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, in a recent interaction with newsmen, had said the government had detected mass under-invoicing on imports from China. The premier had also said the record at Pakistan Customs reported imports of $12 billion from China last year, while data at Chinese Customs reported exports of $16 billion to Pakistan during the same period.
A trader, requesting anonymity, said under-invoicing and revenue evasion was only a part of the damage, China-Pakistan FTA dealt to the local industry and economy.
Quite recently, Pakistan Customs detected large scale money laundering through gross over invoicing of solar PV panels imported from China, and advocated concerted efforts involving State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and by extension commercial banks.
Earlier in June last year, Pakistan Solar Association (PSA) in their representation to Customs authorities had shared actionable information regarding money laundering through over-invoicing of solar (photovoltaic) panels and requested investigation into the matter. The investigations had revealed the said goods were being imported into the country from China at double the international market rates.
The official further said the implementation of electronic data exchange between China and Pakistan under Pak China FTA would facilitate trade and help combating commercial frauds.