On February 5, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a meeting on priorities for reforming the system of foreign economic activity.
In his recent Address to the Oliy Majlis, the Head of the state noted the need for improving the control system and infrastructure in foreign trade, in particular, reforming based on foreign experience of the activities of customs, sanitary, quarantine, veterinary and other services that carry out control activities at customs posts.
The inconsistency in the organization of work in this area, which has continued for many years, leads to certain difficulties in implementation of foreign trade. This is evidenced by the position of the country in the ranking of Doing Business of the World Bank in the direction of Cross-border trade – 152nd place among 190 countries.
Issues of improving Uzbekistan’s position in this rating, improving the work of regulatory agencies based on the world experience were discussed at the meeting.
As is known, in many countries, customs authorities receive information about the cargo before it arrives at the border, which speeds up the passage through control. In Uzbekistan last year, only 344 out of 416 thousand declarations were drawn up before cargo arrived at the border. Advance notice of cargo was carried out in 98 percent of cases of carriage by road and is completely absent when transported by rail.
In this regard, instructions were given on establishing a system in which control is carried out not at the border, but before the arrival of the cargo at the border or after the output is put into free circulation within the country.
The administration system has been criticized: at present, the control over the import and export of 1,836 types of goods is carried out simultaneously by three departments, as a result of which import-export documentation is extended for weeks.
Services of customs, veterinary control, quarantine, sanitary inspection, standardization and ecology were indicated on the need to change working methods, to see the main task in supporting exports.
The importance of introducing a system was noted, in which if it is impossible to quickly calculate the customs value of goods, the entrepreneur can pick up the goods by paying the estimated cost, and the difference between the specified amount and the actual amount paid will be returned or paid later.
The Ministry of Finance and the State Customs Committee have been instructed to develop a new Customs Code, improve the structure and administration of customs authorities with involvement of international experts.
It is necessary to turn the State Plant Quarantine Inspectorate into a structure whose employees must visit farms and explain to farmers the requirements of foreign countries on the use of chemicals and biological protection agents, provide them with practical assistance.
The President noted the need for eradicating corruption and illicit traffic of goods by minimizing the human factor through the introduction of digital technologies.
Movement of imported products from the border to the final consumer should be controlled by customs and tax authorities through a single electronic system. For example, one can link customs declarations with electronic invoices and online cash registers.
Responsible persons were instructed to fully digitize the process of issuing permits and conclusions of laboratory testing, introducing an automated risk analysis system.
The issue of reducing the transit time of goods through border points was discussed at the meeting in detail.
The analysis shows that over the past three years, the number of people crossing the border with neighboring countries has increased by 2 times, the number of vehicles – by almost 3 times. However, the existing infrastructure does not withstand this flow.
For example, some veterinary and quarantine control points do not have the necessary equipment. Border sanitary and epidemiological surveillance services are also not prepared for external risks.
The work on the distribution of freight traffic is not properly organized. The lack of a situational center for remote monitoring of the work of customs posts leads to a long queue. This leads to unnecessary costs for both entrepreneurs and the state budget.
In this regard, responsible persons were instructed to equip the border posts with modern technologies and put into operation the situation center by October 1 this year. The necessity of introducing “one-stop” cargo inspection system at border crossing points with neighboring states was also noted.
It was emphasized that the foreign trade control departments need to closely interact and exchange experience with foreign colleagues, organize test laboratories in the country and arrange shipment of goods along with permits that meet foreign requirements.
The importance of harmonizing national legislation with international agreements in the field of customs, sanitation and epidemiology, transport, standardization, veterinary medicine and quarantine was emphasized for simplifying the process of foreign economic activity.
Special attention was paid to personnel policy. It was indicated that training process at the Customs Institute does not meet modern requirements, it is necessary to improve its activities, as well as retrain the staff of the veterinary and quarantine service based on international standards. The issue of increasing personnel potential within the framework of the agreement with World Customs Organization was also considered.
Responsible persons provided information on the issues included in the agenda of the meeting.