Shanghai customs has started a paperless declaration review in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone to save time and cost for businesses and explore models that can be copied and expanded nationwide for trade facilitation. [Photo by Xu Congjun / Asianewsphoto]
Shanghai customs has started a paperless declaration review in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone to save time and cost for businesses and explore models that can be copied and expanded nationwide for trade facilitation.
The practice, which has been in effect since March, allows corporate representatives to send digital copies of documents to the customs department to declare goods, instead of requiring them to go to customs counters to submit originals, said Lu Xiangqing, deputy director of customs for the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, in a recent interview with China Daily.
"The electronic system of customs will determine the qualification of the materials automatically by the risk parameters that have been set," Lu said.
"If the companies have high levels of integrity and apply to import or export commodities of low risk, they'll see a bill of lading immediately and can go pick up their goods at the port," she said.
The customs department has standards to judge the integrity of businesses based on their records with customs and quality and market watchdogs.
Risk parameters include the business type, the price of the imported or exported goods, country of origin, airlines and logistics, Lu said.
For applications that are judged high risk by the electronic system, customs workers will review the materials and may check the original documents with the businesses if necessary, said Liu Jun, director of declaration review at customs.
"Roughly 90 percent of the review work has been handled in a paperless way," Liu said, adding that this improves the efficiency of customs as nearly 3,400 declaration applications are reviewed daily from the 6,000 enterprises in the Waigaoqiao FTZ, an increase of more than 2,000 businesses since the pilot FTZ was established in September.
Businesses appreciate the practice, saying it will benefit the FTZ's aim to build an operations center in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Even saving the time of one day is precious for enterprises, especially those in logistic sectors," said Mao Yinghua, vice-president of Shanghai Shine-link International Logistics Co Ltd, which moved its headquarters to the Waigaoqiao FTZ in 2001.
"Our clients are all multinationals and they consider time an important cost in addition to money in the import and export trade," she said.
Wu Peng, a customs affairs official from Shanghai Saikai Import and Export Co Ltd, which was founded in the Waigaoqiao FTZ in 1996, hopes the paperless declaration review can be extended to all enterprises.
"Then there will no longer be any businessperson waiting in line, carrying suitcases overflowing with paper materials to apply for customs clearance. Efficiency is an essential factor in developing modern service industries," he said.