At the invitation of Bhutan Customs, the WCO with the support from the Asian Development Bank and the Korean WCO Customs Cooperation Fund conducted a ‘National Workshop on Coordinated Border Management, Single Window and Data Model’ from 23 to 26 November 2015 in Paro, Bhutan. 32 middle and senior ranking officials from the Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC) and several partner government agencies - Department of Trade, Department of Immigration, Department of Industry, Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, Standards Bureau, Ministry of Information and Communication, Royal Monetary Authority, Department of Information Technology and Telecom, Civil Aviation Authority - and representatives from the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce participated in the workshop.
At the opening ceremony, Mr. Yonten Namgyel, Director General of the DRC, highlighted several initiatives being undertaken by the DRC together with its partner government agencies and the private sector towards border process reforms and modernization. He thanked the WCO and ADB for organizing this workshop which would be helpful in enhancing collective understanding and technical capability among all government agencies in terms of moving towards a more coordinated electronic environment.
Based on the current national situation in Bhutan, the WCO presented detailed information on concepts, approaches, harmonization and standardization of data and processes, communication and engagement strategy with all stakeholders relating to Coordinated Border Management and Single Window and explained related WCO tools, instruments and best practices. In the particular geographical context of Bhutan, detailed discussions were also held on potential improvements of transit procedures with neighbouring countries through the exchange of information in a standardized manner and electronic processing through interlinked/interoperable IT systems within Bhutan and across borders.
Being an inception workshop, participants gained an enhanced understanding of Coordinated Border Management, Single Window and Data Model concepts and the implementation process in their national and cross-border environment. In terms of carrying out a scan of the current environment, strategic planning, sequencing and phased implementation, through presentations by WCO experts and breakout exercises, participants developed deeper insights into necessary steps such as functional assessment, legal gap analysis, business process modelling, data harmonization, and made a set of recommendations on the potential way forward.
The active participation of partner government agencies clearly demonstrated the importance and commitment they accord to these initiatives as a whole government project. Some of the recent initiatives taken by Bhutan like the establishment of a National Transport and Trade Facilitation Committee (NTTFC) in 2014 and signing of Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN MVA) this year for seamless cargo movement across borders, are already driving forward the border reforms and modernization agenda including enhanced Coordinated Border Management.