Timor-Leste expands electronic single window to boost international trade

31 March 2023

The system supported by UNCTAD enables the country to save natural and financial resources while accelerating the customs clearance process.

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© Shutterstock/Sony Herdiana |The immigration gate at the Timor Leste border.

Timor-Leste has increased the capabilities of its electronic single window (TileSW), connecting eight government agencies responsible for approving the release of goods from customs.

TileSW was developed in partnership with UNCTAD using its Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) technologies, thanks to a project that started in September 2020.

Customs and partner government agencies were previously not electronically connected, delaying customs clearance paperwork, as this would only start once goods were in the country.

To prevent these delays, the Government of Timor-Leste adopted the environmentally friendly electronic single window system, which facilitates trade by reducing the cost and time of trading internationally, enables paperless trade and enhances clearance controls.

“The single window system in Timor-Leste enables the country to import and export more easily and reduces the environmental impact of Timor-Leste’s regional and international trade,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD's technology and logistics division. 

“This in turn enables growth and sustainable development, contributing to achieving the UN Agenda 2030,” she added.

Timor-Leste’s vice minister of trade and industry, Domingos Lopes Antunes, said the system “will tremendously help the private sector in expediting trade procedures and transactions, thus contributing to resource-saving and time efficiency.”

System eases business transactions

The system is capable of handling various processes electronically. These include motor vehicle import authorization, joint inspection involving three government agencies, certificate of origin application submission and approval, exporter registration and passenger customs declaration paperwork.

By allowing the exchange of data between port authority and customs systems, the single window makes the entire process more efficient.

It streamlines the processing of tax exemptions on imported goods and facilitates medicine and medical equipment clearance. It also eases import/export permit application and processing for animals, plants and their products and fast-tracks customs clearance, benefiting importers, exporters and government authorities.

These new features will improve the country’s business environment while facilitating international trade by bringing stakeholders together online.

The system is part of UNCTAD’s work to promote cutting-edge technologies that enable developing countries to participate more equitably in the global economy and to implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Lower environmental and economic cost of trade

Data from government agencies shows that the system has led to an 85% reduction in the use of printed paper in their operations and a 91% reduction in trips by investors between customs and other relevant offices.

It has also led to better control and management of imports of ozone-depleting substances and cut delays and subsequent demurrage costs.

The system has significantly improved the efficiency of customs clearance, as authorities can now process paperwork up to six months before the arrival of goods. It also allows user self-registration, enabling traders to obtain TileSW access online. It’s available in English, Portuguese and Tetun.

ASYCUDA is UNCTAD’s largest technical assistance programme. Over the past four decades, it has helped customs offices in 127 countries around the world accelerate the clearance of goods and increase the pace of trade.