For use of information media - Not an official record

16 June 2004

The fourth version of UNCTAD´s automated system for Customs -- dubbed ASYCUDAWorld -- is now taking off in Europe. Moldova is the first country to implement ASYCUDAWorld, with live operation planed by year-end. UNCTAD expects that ASYCUDAWorld, which makes use of state-of-the-art technologies such as electronic signature and biometrics, has the potential to reach well over 100 countries in just a few years.

ASYCUDAWorld allows the computerization of all Customs operations, including risk-management, valuation control, assessment of Tariff duties and automation and control of transit operations. The Customs Department of Moldova aims to establish a transparent clearance processing mechanism with e-document tracking available for all agents and will further expand its Direct Trader Input operations.

ASYCUDAWorld is making use of the Web technology that allows Customs officers and traders to handle most of their transactions - from Customs declarations to cargo manifests and transit documents - via the Internet. A secondary benefit of the distribution of ASYCUDAWorld processing is its effectiveness in combating fraud, corruption and illicit trafficking, as it gives Customs authorities in different countries their first-ever tool for working together online.

ASYCUDAWorld can work with all major database management systems -- including Oracle, Sybase, DB2, Informix, SQLServer, etc. -- and most operating systems, such as Linux, Solaris, AIX and Windows. The choices of software and hardware suppliers are thus left entirely to user countries. The platform´s use of XML (extensible mark-up language) allows for the exchange of any document inside and outside the system, between Customs administrations and traders and between Customs administrations in different countries. Entirely Java-based, user countries can modify or extend the ASYCUDAWorld system without requesting assistance from UNCTAD.

A number of ASYCUDA user countries considering ASYCUDAWorld have approached UNCTAD; It is expected that ASYCUDAWorld pilot sites will be operational in each geographical region -- Africa, the Americas and Caribbean, Asia and Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East -- within a few months.

The ASYCUDAWorld database is fully compatible with ASYCUDA++, ensuring a smooth transition to e-Customs for countries currently using ASYCUDA++. This is eased by the built-in implementation in all ASYCUDA systems of relevant international standards, and in particular the Harmonized System Tariff for classification of goods (HS), ISO codes, and the European Single Administrative Document (SAD). Through the implementation of ASYCUDA projects, Customs data requirements are harmonized and simplified and Customs procedures re-engineered and straight forwarded. That objective is also being pursued by the Brussels based World Customs Organization (WCO), which is developing a global, harmonized standard data set that uses uniform electronic messages. The WCO Customs Data Model, as it is called, is likely to have a dramatic effect on the processing of business-to-business, business-to-government and government-to-government transactions. These developments, combined with the fact that 85 countries around the world are already using the same customs IT system --ASYCUDA -- represent a formidable opportunity for using the Internet to make international trade simpler and cheaper while also making international markets more accessible to enterprises from developing countries.

The sophisticated ASYCUDAWorld fault recovery network technology still requires fair telecommunication. In that respect, progress made over the past years in developing countries allows most of them to implement ASYCUDAWorld. As to the other countries, UNCTAD has worked on a strategy for parallel use of ASYCUDAWorld in large cities and ASYCUDA++ in areas where telecoms are weaker, making it possible for every country to benefit from the ASYCUDAWorld system. In addition, some ASYCUDA implementations are based on a sophisticated decentralized technical architecture that does away with the need to maintain permanent connections with a national server - something that is especially important for countries with unreliable telecommunications. This approach has proven its effectiveness in more than 80 countries over the past decade.

The ASYCUDAWorld system makes use of cutting-edge ITC technologies including e-signature, biometrics and XML to provide governments and Customs administrations in particular with new tools that will enable them to make dramatic improvements in security, trade efficiency and the fight against corruption. ASYCUDAWorld means even greater tax revenue collection and lower transaction costs, making it a showcase for e-government.

The ASYCUDA programme was created 20 years ago to automate the Customs administrations of small developing countries. It has become the leading Customs reform programme and is among the world´s most powerful Customs automation systems.

ASYCUDA, a purely demand-driven programme, is financed entirely by beneficiary countries, either from their own national budgets or through loans or grants, and does not require any subsidy from the UN regular budget.

For more information, please:
UNCTAD Press Office (in São Paulo)
T: +55 11 7203 9243 (English/Spanish)
F: +55 11 6224 2422
E: press@unctad.org
UNCTAD Press Office (in Geneva)
T: +41 22 917 5828
E: press@unctad.org
Peter Faust
T: +55 11 7203 9257 (in São Paulo)
E: peter.faust@unctad.org
Fabrice Millet
T: +41 22 917 4465 (in Geneva)
E: asycuda@unctad.org
Or visit the ASYCUDA website (www.ASYCUDA.org).


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