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Thursday December 02, 2021

FBR revs up efforts to boost cross-border trade

January 20, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is trying to further improve its services on border crossings to increase trade with India and Afghanistan, it said on Tuesday.

“In order to further improve Pakistan’s position in trading across border criterion, the Federal Board of Revenue is pursuing simultaneous completion of regional improvement of border services and Pakistan Single Window,” the FBR said in a statement.

“Regional improvement of border services is being implemented at Torkham, Chaman, and Wagah and is the flagship program that aims at improving border-crossing facilities which are key transit points to Afghanistan and India. Pakistan Single Window, on the other hand, would integrate online at least 46 departments / agencies in Pakistan and would make trading across border a hassle free and seamless operation.”

The FBR said its efforts brought the country’s positions 31 notches up in the trading across border index of the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 published in October 2019. Pakistan improved from 142nd to 111th on the rank of trading across border index.

“The Federal Board of Revenue made trading across borders easier by focusing three crucial areas: enhancing the integration of various agencies in the Web-Based One Customs electronic system; reducing the number of documents required for import / export clearances; enhancing capacities of Pakistan Customs officials for playing pro-active role in smoothly regulating border trade,” the FBR said.

Climbing up the ladder in trading across border index enabled Pakistan in jumping up 28 places – from 136th to 108th – in World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 and securing a place among the top 10 countries have done the most in the corresponding / past year to improve the ease of doing business in their countries.

“This milestone has led Pakistan to be the sixth global reformer and first in South Asia that has brought ease in doing business for the national / international trade,” it said. “Border facilitation is amongst the top priority areas as per the comprehensive policy laid down by the government. Concerted efforts by Pakistan Customs, under FBR, led to impressive performance in terms of compliance to the provisions of World Trade Organization’s trade facilitation agreement, hence, complementing Pakistan’s rise in trading across border index.”

Pakistan Customs has pursued implementation of effective customs controls so that compliant trade is thoroughly facilitated, while lesser / non-compliant trade is diverted to detailed scrutiny. “This strategy worked well, as conceived by Pakistan Customs, and has gone a long way in reducing the dwell time (at the borders / ports) for imports / exports in Pakistan by increasing the percentage of clearances through green channel.”

For instance, the time required for documentary compliance to effect exports has been reduced from 55 hours to 24 hours, and the time required for overall border compliance to effect exports has also been reduced from 75 hours to 24 hours. Similarly, the time required for documentary compliance to effect imports has been reduced from 143 hours to 24 hours, and the time required for overall border compliance to effect imports has also been reduced from 120 hours to 24 hours.