Beirut, 18 January 2018 (Communication and Information Unit) -- A “single window” environment to expedite or simplify information flows between trade and government is duly needed in countries of the Arab region, especially in Iraq which still maintains one of the highest number of document requirements for imports and exports.
This issue was the central focus of a two-day workshop organized in Beirut by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission in Western Asia (ESCWA) on 16 and 17 January, in the context of its work to promote intra-regional trade.
“As the volume of international trade and its role in development and business activity grows, more efficient and flexible channels are needed to facilitate trade across borders at lower costs and efforts,” said Moctar Mohamed El Hacene, Director of the ESCWA Economic Development and Integration Division, at the opening of the meeting.
The value of a single entrance—or “Single Window”—for the physical or electronic submission and handling of all data related to an international transaction has been recognized as one of the most important means to simplify procedures and reduce transit time. Additional benefits include combating bribery, customs evasion and repeated transactions.
“The Arab region needs such developments to enhance the competitiveness of its exports and improve the collection of customs revenues, ensuring efficiency in the interest of consumers,” stressed Mr. El Hacene.
Several Arab countries, including Tunisia and Morocco, have already established this system and are participating in the workshop to highlight the challenges, lessons learned, and the benefits.
According to ESCWA, Iraq can support its economy by following a similar path. The country’s performance on various international indicators measuring the ease of doing business and trade is reportedly very modest. Moreover, the country ranks 153 out of 160 in the 2016 Logistics Performance Index, a major global indicator of efficiency of logistics.
The two-day meeting was therefore an opportunity to discuss a strategic vision and action-oriented plan for a Single Window implementation in Iraq, to lower the barriers to trade and support the national economy as well as all economic players involved.
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