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Draft UN/CEFACT background paper


Recommendation on Single Windows Interoperability


General Background


Single Window implementation has became one of the necessary measures for streamlining the trade procedures within a country. Various studies have shown that National Single Window has been implemented in nearly 20 countries and many more are in progress.


MY, ID, SG, SW, SN, GH x 3, KR, JP, MG, FI, SR, TH, CO, KY, NL, MA, US


As defined in UN/CEFACT Recommendation 33, Establishment of Single Window enables the trade related information and/or documents be submitted only once at a single entry point. This can enhance the availability and handling of information, expedite and simplify information flows between trade and government and can result in a greater harmonisation and sharing of the relevant data across governmental systems, bringing meaningful gains to all parties involved in cross-border trade. The use of such a facility can result in improved efficiency and effectiveness of official controls and can reduce costs for both governments and traders due to better use of resources.


Lately, Single Windows implementer has realised that enabling of single point of submission at the national level only meet partial requirement of the entire trade value chain especially so for international business transactions. Despite the successfully implementation of paperless trading with Single Window at the national level, there are many physical business and trade documents still need to be generated in order to fulfil the need of the counterparts and authorities across the border. Such requirements have decreased the effectiveness and efficiency of Single Window as traders still need to prepare necessary physical documents.


In view of that, there are needs to maximise the benefits of Single Window by extending the coverage of electronic data exchanges to cross-border Single Windows. As such, there has been increasing demands for interconnectivity with other Single Windows, be it bilateral or regional approach. An example of the outcome is the ASEAN Single Window initiative and APEC Single Window initiative.


The process of developing bilateral or regional Single Window is complicated, cumbersome and time consuming. Much emphasis has been put on the technical requirement. However, this is a process that is more complex than that. Parties involved needs to have a model of working through proposed legislation that coordinates the different agencies, departments and their respective agendas and cultures and take into account the opinions of other stakeholders, such as trade itself to ensure it meets their business requirements.



UN/CEFACT Specific Background

The UN/CEFACT developed Recommendation 33 – “Recommendation and Guidelines on establishing a Single window” in 2005. The recommendation gained recognition and many countries has adopted the Rec 33 for the implementation of their national single window. Pending Recommendation 34 is adding value to the international trade flow by introducing a guideline for harmonization of data. Implementation of this exercise is instrumental for Single Window interoperability as well as considering the requirements of Single Window Legal Framework (pending recommendation 35). However, recommendation 33 (and pending recommendations 34 and 35) does not address the need for interoperability of Single Windows and guidelines for such implementations.


The UN/CEFACT with its wide range of experts from all parts of society would be able to gather information on good practices and structure it into recommendations on the mechanism for Single Window interoperability.


Project Purpose and Preparation

The project’s purpose is to prepare a recommendation and guidelines on Single Window interoperability and different models for such implementations.  The recommendation would address the need of extending the coverage of Single Window implementation as well as mechanisms in doing that.


The recommendation should be developed in a Guideline on Single Window Interoperability, where various subject matters need to be taken into considerations and a number of possible models are presented and discussed in detail. Legal and business requirement are at the core of the matter of the proposed recommendation. Apart from that, good communication and technical matters are especially important.


A case repository for Single Window interoperability should be developed in order to give more substance to the guidelines in form of best practice developed. The use of reference groups and written and oral consultations should be treated in the guidelines. The ASEAN Secretariat has initiated ASEAN Single Windows project, therefore it can be the reference model for this recommendation. Issues affecting Government and traders should be considered and incorporated in the recommendation and the guidelines.



Possible index for the guidelines:


National and international legal framework, to include regional/bilateral trade agreements


International trade procedures and requirements


Technical, business and operational requirements


Co-ordination between governments and its agencies


Models of Single Window implementations – Centralised, distributed or VPN to address the confidentiality issues and single point of failures


Project Team Membership and Required Functional Expertise

Membership is open to experts with broad knowledge in the area of single window implementations. It will be important to find experts that can contribute with the examples of single window legal, technical, business and operational requirements.


Experts are expected to contribute to the work based solely on their expertise and to comply with the UN/CEFACT Code of Ethics and policy on Intellectual Property Rights.