Dhaka set to sign UN paperless trade pact

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 01 Aug 2017, 22:33:18

Dhaka set to sign UN paperless trade pact

n Customs, ports, banks stand to gain n Freight forwarders, C&F agents to lose
FE Report

The country will benefit from introducing paperless trade that can reduce trading time and cost while ensuring trust, accountability and transparency in the system, speakers said Tuesday.

They placed importance on capacity building for implementing the electronic system for all kinds of business transactions, and carrying out study on the costs of transitional period.  

The observations came at a validation workshop on the scoping study of 'Paperless Trade Facilitation in Bangladesh' organised by Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) in the city.

Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed was present as the chief guest, which was also attended by National Board of Revenue (NBR) chairman Md Nojibur Rahman and commerce secretary Shubhashish Bose.

BFTI chief executive officer Ali Ahmed chaired the workshop while BFTI director Amitava Chakraborty presented the scoping study.

"To be competitive in the global trade regime, which is moving fast through digital system, we have to build our capacity," the minister said.

Paperless trade will reduce time and costs while ensuring accountability and transparency, he said.

Referring to statistics, he said the cross-border paperless trade will reduce export time by 24 per cent to 44 per cent and reduce trade cost by 17 per cent to 31 per cent.

The new 'Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific' will remain open for signature at the United Nations Regional Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok on August 29.

Bangladesh, in principle, agreed to sign it, a proposal is expected to get the government's approval shortly in this regard.  

The minister expressed the hope of signing the agreement after completing all the required procedures.

Highlighting the progress of NBR in terms of automation and implementation of paperless trade, the NBR chairman said that the business community will get benefit if paperless trade can be implemented because it is expected to significantly reduce time and cost of exports and imports.

The level of corruption can also be decreased through the system, he noted.

The Scoping Study has pointed out several important recommendations, which need to be taken care of, Mr Bose said explaining the different government initiatives taken to improve the overall trade in the country.

Mr Chakraborty, in his study, identified the cost of transition in government and private sector agencies, long-term costs for ensuring effective maintenance, interoperability of systems, cyber security issues, political sustainability and stakeholders' co-ordination as the risks and challenges.  

The study recommendations included the development of co-ordination mechanism and negotiations with international partners, choosing the right technology and awareness on cyber security and dialogue with civil society, NGOs and other actors and non-actors for easing the implementation process and for the inclusion of a larger community.

It also identified customs, banks, port authority as possible winners and freight forwarders, courier service providers and C&F agents are losers due to the implementation of paperless trade.

The study, however, recommended incentive mechanism to motivate the groups that might be affected.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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