By Andrey Saveliev
“Last November, 92 percent of export deliveries were conducted with the help of electronics,” explains the Acting Deputy Head of the Minsk Regional Customs for Organisation of Customs Clearance and Control, Dmitry Belousov. “Initially, this innovation was viewed with mistrust; now, its advantages are being appreciated. Firstly, it significantly reduces time taken for customs clearance; on average, the process now takes 20-30 minutes but we aim to reduce it further. This is especially convenient for companies based outside of Minsk. Secondly, it costs less, and is convenient for customs bodies. Moreover, personal contact with each applicant is no longer necessary, reducing the risk of corruption.”
The first export declaration was e-registered in 2008. Among the pioneers of this technology were Minsk Motor Works and Keramin JSC. At that time, virtual customs operations were an experiment, with many questions asked on customs Internet forums. People wondered how it would operate and what the drawbacks would be. Some time later, the pilot zone was transformed, with a national automated system of e-declaration being launched. Soon, everyone realised that it was operating smoothly. Minsk Regional Customs alone supervises the e-process for about 2,000 enterprises and entrepreneurs, including three hundred which boast the status of authorised economic operator.
E-declaration relies on data exchange between each customs applicant and a network inspector, requiring clear lines of telecommunication. This probably embarrassed manufacturers two years ago, since not all had stable and reliable Internet access, with many having poor software. The technical part of the declaration system is still being perfected, with the goal of covering as many products as possible (among those which can be registered in an electronic form). In the future, customs officers aim to synchronise the national automated system of e-declaration with its Russian analogue; the two systems remain unlinked so far, with some goods still registered as before — on paper. The Customs Union should help them to unite.
“Another task facing us is the expansion of e-declaration possibilities in the sphere of imports,” explains Mr. Belousov, adding, “There is scope for work here.”