Customs officials in Myanmar said a new Japanese-funded automated customs clearance system to help endcongestion that has crippled the largest gateway of Yangon will be fully operational by November.
|Officials hope that automated customs clearance will help relieve congestion at the port of Yangon fueled by infrastructure limitations and growing container volumes.|
The $40 million Myanmar Automated Cargo Clearance System, or MACCS, aims to speed the flow of goods through the country’s main ports by automating customs processes and will ultimately drive more growth in foreign trade volumes, MACCS director, U Win Thant, told journalists at a press conference in Yangon.
The system would also support requirements related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Single Window program that intends to integrate the national single-windows of member states to facilitate trade.
“We start testing this month. (MACCS) will be implemented initially for port, airport and SEZ (special economic zone) operations in Yangon after which it will be extended to border trade zones,” said U Win Thant.
MACCS will automate key customs processes, including duty payments, which have been carried out manually up to now. Traders, customs officials and officials from other government agencies will access the system via the Internet.
Funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA, MACCS is based on the technology of Japan's Nippon Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System and its Customs Intelligence Database System.
“We have provided technical assistance for application of this online system and are also providing training related to use of the system. The aim is to reform and modernize customs administration,” JICA said in a statement on the project.
Over 90 percent of Myanmar’s trade comes through Yangon. Economic growth and the opening up of the country have resulted in a doubling of the number of vessels calling at the port of Yangon over the past 10 years and a fourfold increase in container throughput.
Round-the-clock customs clearance was introduced at the port of Yangon at the end of May in an effort to relieve congestion that at one point saw vessels forced to remain in port for up to 16 days instead of the usual three to five.
The congestion is due to a combination of the growth in trade volumes, poor port infrastructure and equipment, inefficient cargo handling processes and the limited draft of the port, which means that larger vessels cannot call.
A major spike in imports that started at the end of April, including the import of large quantities of construction materials to feed numerous infrastructure projects in the rapidly growing economy led to the imbalance in imports and exports that continues to create problems with cargo handling and clearance.
MACCS will allow traders to submit necessary documents electronically and open deposit accounts from which customs can withdraw duties that have been calculated automatically. This will allow duty payments to be made and cargo to be cleared even when customs officials are not on duty, U Win Thant said.
“It is expected that time and costs for customs clearance procedure will be reduced and trade efficiency and competitiveness will be enhanced,” JICA added.
Following implementation at Yangon’s primary foreign trade facilities, MACCS will be extended to major trade points on the border with Thailand and China and eventually to all border trade points across the country.