UNCTAD held its 15th quadrennial conference in October 2021. During UNCTAD15, the value of ASYCUDA’s contribution was reiterated and reinforced within the conference outcome document – The Bridgetown Covenant – with member States urging that UNCTAD continue to work with our membership to collaboratively assist in the implementation of the ASYCUDA Programme’s technical assistance and software solutions.
At the time of publication, ASYCUDA’s customs management software, ASYCUDAWorld, was active in 101 countries and territories – covering every habitable continent of the world – and while UNCTAD’s flagship customs software continues to help member States grow their economies by accelerating customs clearance processes, the Programme is increasingly called upon to broaden the scope of its support. For example, more and more member States are seeking the ASYCUDA Programme’s assistance to electronically connect government departments involved in international trade and customs clearance. As such, the Programme supported governments in the development of bespoke single window systems – essentially a one-stop-shop for traders, customs, and Partner Government Agencies to clear consignments.
This new trend has led the Programme to develop partnerships – with both public and private sectors – to produce new solutions and tools, such as eCITES and ASYHUB, that complement and improve customs clearance processes. Still, helping countries to streamline and improve their own domestic regulations covering international trade remained one of its core deliveries.
While the ASYCUDA Programme’s 2020 Annual Report highlighted activities that supported member States during the most intense period of the COVID-19 pandemic to date and beyond, this report identifies encouraging future promise – outlining how the ASYCUDA Programme has helped user countries to grow and thrive this past year and will continue to do so. However, it is clear that the current economic environment poses financial challenges and presents a great deal of uncertainty.
I am confident that the ASYCUDA Programme will continue to provide trade facilitation support and technical solutions to governments that enable them to increase public revenues and transparency, reduce the time and cost of international trade and deliver against their SDG commitments, as we strive to accelerate progress in this decade of action.
Shamika N. Sirimanne
Director, Division on Technology and Logistics, UNCTAD