ADB to Help Maldives Establish A National Single Window
31 May 2019
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved the proposed financing for the Maldives: SASEC National Single Window Project worth $11 million—comprising loan/grant financing of $10 million and technical assistance of $1 million. The Government of Maldives will provide complementary financing of $1.99 million. This project will introduce a single electronic platform in Maldives that will help improve the speed and efficiency of cross-border control procedures by employing the latest technology. Its estimated completion date is end of June 2023.
According to Mr. Masato Nakane, Senior Economist, ADB, the project will improve the trade environment of Maldives, and help expand trade with partners in the region, including India and Sri Lanka. Establishing a national single window allows traders to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related statutory requirements via a single entry point, reducing delays and lowering costs associated with the clearance of goods. It will help Maldives Customs maintain the needed controls, as well as collect fees and duties on imports or exports.
Maldives relies heavily on imports for food, fuel, and other goods. Its exports, primarily of fresh fish and fish products, have been steadily increasing, rising from $50 million in 1995 to $140 million in 2016. Despite progress in recent years, Maldives lags on several trade facilitation indicators, such as cost of documentary compliance per export transaction which amounts to $300, one of the highest in South Asia, where the average is $180. Cost of import transactions in Maldives is $180,and while this is in the lower range of the South Asian average of $342, it is still much higher in comparison with the $40 cost of transaction in Singapore.
Establishment of a national single window in Maldives is in line with the operational priorities for trade facilitation under the SASEC program. It will provide an efficient environment for streamlined international trade procedures between private sector stakeholders and border control agencies. It also supports the development of an automated system that will enable sharing of harmonized data across systems of cross-border regulatory agencies, Maldives Ports Limited, and Maldives Airports Company Limited.
The national single window project is also aligned with ADB’s Strategy 2030 goals of fostering regional cooperation and integration, strengthening governance and institutional capacity, and promoting the use of advanced technologies.
ADB has been supporting Maldives in preparing and implementing trade facilitation measures through the SASEC Program. Seminars and studies have been held on risk management of customs’ clearance, accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention, and the national single window system. As the SASEC secretariat, ADB organizes the annual meetings of the SASEC customs subgroup, which discusses and plans national and subregional initiatives, including modernizing customs administrations.
Maldives became a full member of the SASEC Program in May 2014, together with Sri Lanka, following several years as an active observer. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal formed the project-based partnership in 2001. In 2017, Myanmar also became a SASEC partner.