KARACHI: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is all set to implement electronic data exchange (EDE) between Customs administration of China and Pakistan under Pak China Free Trade Agreement, which would facilitate trade and help combating commercial frauds.
This bilateral initiative expected to go online in June 2016 is going to help Pakistan and China verify the Certificates of Origin issued for claiming preferential tariff under Pak China Free Trade Agreement. It may be mentioned here that there has been a huge disparity between the import figures at Pakistan Customs and export number of China Customs, which suggests that imports from China are being largely under-invoiced resulting in revenue loss to the country.
A memorandum of understanding in this regard was signed in 2013 between the Customs administrations of two countries. Subsequently, FBR constituted a working group for the establishment of Electronic Data Exchange (EDE) in 2014. In addition to China Customs officials, the working group also included Director Majid Yousafani as focal person, Director Dr. Fareed Iqbal Qureshi, Additional Director Sadia Sheraz, Senior Managers PRAL Riaz Chaudry, Arshad Hussain, Azeem Afzal and Ali Naqvi.
Since China is using IBM MQ 6.0 as communication, Pakistan Customs is procuring a middleware enterprise Service Bus (ESB) as Message Queuing Engine is a built-in feature in ESB. Procurement of this software will not only facilitate the development of establishing EDE between Pakistan and China, but it would also be supportive in establishing EDE with Afghanistan and receive cargo and passenger manifest from airlines using IATA-WCO Cargo and API standards respectively.
The initial compatibility tests were successfully conducted and technical documentation was completed. The limiting factor in this EDE arrangement was non-availability of a software system with Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) for issuance of the Certificate of Origin. WeBOC team has now designed and developed a software module under WeBOC for TDAP for electronic issuance of the Certificate of Origin, which is expected to be deployed soon.
Custom’s technical team has now completed development of software for Goods Declaration, Certificate of Origin (COO) and Grant/Denial messages as part of the Electronic Data Exchange. The team has completed development/internal testing of the application software for sending and receiving messages from China Customs on agreed parameters.
The FBR is all set to switch connectivity between China MQ and Pakistan from test environment to UAT environment . FBR is also trying to expand the scope of EDE to all the traded goods instead of limiting it to consignments covered by certificate of origin so as to maximize its benefits for better customs controls and enhanced trade facilitation.