TOKYO -- Japan aims to broaden exports of its customs management system to Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines, helping Southeast Asia build a regional customs network while easing Japanese businesses' expansion into the region.
The Nippon Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System electronically manages customs procedures and centralizes interactions with relevant government bodies. It can also handle processes like quarantine inspections for importing and exporting food products.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations members Vietnam and Myanmar have already adopted Japan's system, reportedly slashing to about half a day from five days the time it takes Vietnam to process customs declarations.
Japan's Finance Ministry received Cambodia's request for the customs system during Prime Minister Hun Sen's visit last month. A deal on the transfer is expected next year. The details have yet to be discussed, but Japan intends to provide the system free of charge. Tokyo will also approach the Philippines and Laos as they make progress on customs legislation and other fronts.
Cambodia and other nations currently use a basic customs management system provided for free by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. That system's connectivity and information sharing functions are not up to the level of Japan's, and it also takes longer owing to certain documentation requirements.
ASEAN is working to build an intraregional network that centralizes import and export declaration procedures. For that to be realized, member countries must establish electronic customs systems first.
Japan's support for modernizing customs management in ASEAN nations is part of a strategy it adopted in 2013 of exporting infrastructure systems. South Korea and Singapore are touting their customs systems, but Japan leads the pack. Its support measures also include training customs staff.
Japanese companies would also benefit if their country's system became the standard in ASEAN, as they would enjoy smoother customs clearance under a familiar process.