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The Registration of Foreign Trade Procedures Eased in Tajikistan. Will It Simplify the Businessmen’s Lives?

Tajikistan is the first Central Asian country, where the Single Window System was launched for registration of export, import and transit procedures. The developers believe that the system can simplify the work of entrepreneurs. We try to figure out whether this is true.

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What is a Single Window System?
Single Window is an electronic system created to simplify foreign trade and reduce the costs of importers and exporters. It opens access to 22 permits from 11 government agencies. The system will significantly reduce the time and budget spent on paperwork required for the export, import and transit of goods. Electronic applications can be submitted from any location 24/7. The responsible agencies are obliged to consider them as quickly as possible. The only thing needed is an account and Internet access.
Why is it needed?
Its main tasks:

• Ensuring high quality of issuance of permits, licenses, certificates and other regulatory or e-documents related to foreign trade;

• Regulation and simplifying customs clearance procedures;

• Minimizing the time of interaction between government officials and citizens engaged in foreign economic activity;

• Increasing transparency, public control and predictability of e-government services;

• Providing time and cost savings for both government agencies and citizens and business entities.

Will it be easy to process customs clearance online?
We do not know yet. The official launch of the system was possible after 5 years of research, preparations and personnel training. The developers say that now, the website is created with intuitive interface. The system is managed at the State Unitary Enterprise “Single Window Center” under the Customs Service of the Republic of Tajikistan. They also conduct training for prospective members in Dushanbe and Khujand. For other cities, training and consultations are held online. However, it is difficult to say how easy it will be for entrepreneurs to learn filling the system’s applications.
What were the procedures previously and what difficulties did entrepreneurs face?
It was very difficult to process customs documents before the introduction of the system (it still did not start working properly) in the country. The state licensing system for export and import operations is complex and often duplicated. The participants in foreign trade have to provide a large number of various documents and information to government agencies in order to comply with the customs legislation of the republic. The cargos remain in the terminal in Tajikistan for a long time. An entrepreneur can apply with only paper-based documents. It takes up to 15 days to fill out documents in various institutions and obtain a permit. A day of storing goods in the terminal costs an average of $100.
Will everything work online?
After the implementation of the Single Window System, the businessman receives all permits online and prepares them in advance. The Single Window System accepts payments for issuing permits. Payment can be in cash or transferred to an account using an electronic payment system. After filling out all the mandatory applications on the website, an entrepreneur or broker receives information about which permits and from which institution she/he should receive. The website also indicates the amount of the state fee, bank details and the deadline in which the document will be considered. After the implementation of the Single Window System, the businessman receives all permits online, prepares them in advance, and the goods arrive in Tajikistan with a ready list of documents.
How to use the Single Window System?
An entrepreneur needs to open an account on the website of the Customs Service. A registered user must enter the code of the goods into the system and receive a list of required documents for customs clearance, indicating the time of issue and cost. The search system on the website will help to determine the code by the title and description of the goods. If, within the indicated time, the permits are not issued or an official refusal is not received, the system will automatically inform the employee who will have to additionally control the process of issuing permits. However, we cannot say, what would happen if the responsible employee “does not see” the notification (consciously or not).
What are the risks?
This is a situation where the corruption is possible. This employee may not “see” the documents that were not completed in time or “see them for money” later. The developers assure that the system is as transparent as possible. The message will indicate the transaction number, the type of document, the start date of the process for considering the issuance of permits, as well as the name of the employee who committed the violation. We would like to believe that the Single Window System would work better than similar online services in Tajikistan. From previous experience with e-visas or digital tax filing, we know that these systems are created in such a way that ordinary users who are not very Internet-savvy can get confused. In addition, the Internet connection in Tajikistan is poor and the systems constantly shut down. These are the points that developers should pay attention to.

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