TechInPacific – Vanuatu delivers a breakthrough on how goods are imported and exported in the Pacific, which has shortened the current goods handling procedures.
The country introduces Electronic Single Window System, an online system for submission and payment of import and export certificates, licenses, and permits.
This system addresses some of the issues that businesses have found when trying to import and export their goods, such as the lengthy steps of having to come in-person for submitting paper forms, waiting for days of approval before going back to the office for payment and receiving their copy of the permit.
This is especially troublesome for fresh products, as told by Sophia Fogarty, the General Manager of Dynamic Supply Company.
“As we import fresh fruit and vegetables, we need to obtain our plant import permits before we can pack containers. As we are dealing with fresh produce, it is time-sensitive, so even minor delays in permit approval can become very challenging to manage,” Fogarty said.
Knowing this, the Vanuatu Government reached out to UNCTAD with financial backup from EIF to work on a module that enables traders to obtain Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) permits and certificates online.
This has promptly speeded up the process from submitting to the approval of goods by allowing officials to approve the traders’ applications online.
“Businesses were still able to lodge permits online and government officials were still able to approve them while working from home. This would not have been possible with our previous manual system,” said Stanley Trief, Vanuatu National Single Window project manager.
This online system also coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has helped the involved parties follow the government enforcement of social distancing.
“When the biosecurity module went live on the 24th of March, it was when the government was enforcing all these rules and directives of social gatherings. It was timely that we went into an online system, as it enabled us to continue to process permits while achieving physical distancing.”
As of now, the system has 300 registered users and has found use in Vanuatu’s statistics office to supply the government with data for improved decision-making.
“The single window system should not be seen in isolation. It’s part of a broader national trade policy framework and the national sustainable development plan that aims to increase Vanuatu’s overall competitiveness and economic performance. The future of the single window is to integrate other agencies involved in the movement of goods and people across our borders,” said Luisa Letlet from Vanuatu’s Ministry of Trade, Tourism, Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business.
“As our trade facilitation indicators improve with the use of the single window system, we hope this will enable Vanuatu to move higher up in the ease of doing business ranking.”