Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait announced that the one-stop-shop system will start operation at the country’s largest ports before the end of June 2021.
Maait’s remarks came during an inspection tour, on Sunday, of customs service’s logistics centres at Cairo Airport and in Ain Sokhna.
The ministerial visit came as part of his efforts to monitor the performance of the national one-stop-shop system for foreign trade.
During his tour, Maait said the national project to modernise and automate the customs system at all Egypt’s land, sea, and air ports enjoys great support from the country’s political leadership.
He ordered the Egyptian Customs Authority (ECA) to coordinate with various parties to agree on unified standards to expedite the customs clearance process for whitelisted companies.
Maait also said there is a need for representatives from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA) to be present at logistics centres.
They will be joined by representatives from the Egyptian Customs Authority (ECA) and the General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOIEC). This would guarantee a speeding up of the one-stop system’s work pace, as well as the professional handling of any challenges.
The minister noted that speed is needed to finish preparing the new logistics centre building at Cairo Airport, for its operations to start within three months. This aims to contribute to the speedy completion of customs release procedures.
At the same time, work will be undertaken to establish logistical centres at industrial complexes, such as the 10th of Ramadan and 6th of October cities, Quesna and Banha, to make it easier for those dealing with customs.
Maait also said it is important for a non-governmental entity to be created that represents those dealing with logistical centres. This will create a sustainable mechanism for effective communication between single window officials and customs brokers.
This should occur in a manner that allows the opportunity to form an institutional memory of problems and solutions, in a way that helps facilitate overcoming challenges and obstacles. The minister outlined that the success of any new system is related to its ability to quickly deal with any changes and remove obstacles.
He added that procedures for returning “letters of guarantee” for transit goods in domestic ports will be facilitated, to ensure their speedy return to custom dealers in the shortest time possible.
Magdy Abdel Aziz, Advisor to the Minister for Customs Affairs, said that the one-stop-shop system is a meeting point to exchange information and documents among all parties involved in trade and transport.
It provides mechanisms to facilitate foreign trade procedures, standardise the necessary forms for releasing goods and invoices, and apply the digital payments system. The latter will take place in a way that contributes to boosting international trade movement, whilst improving Egypt’s ranking in the logistics services performance index.
Mona Nasser, Assistant Finance Minister for Follow-up Affairs and Administration of Development Projects at the ECA, said that the logistical centres have been electronically linked with GOIEC and its own analysis laboratories. Links have also been established with: the Central Administration of Plant Quarantine; the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA); the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology; Ministry of Interior; and the General Authority for Veterinary Quarantine Department.
Alongside the electronic links with banks to pay all customs and tax fees, and reduce the number of documents required, it is hoped that this will contribute to reducing the customs release time.
Nasser indicated that the Ministry of Finance aims to reduce the customs release time at Ain Sokhna Port to less than three days, instead of the current seven days, before the one-shop system comes into effect.
Osama El-Sherif, head of the Egyptian Company for E-Commerce Technology (MTS), said that the logistics centre for major customers in Cairo provides a package of distinctive services.
They all simplify procedures and facilitate the process for customs dealers who enjoy the benefits of the “white list”, so that they can quickly finish the procedures to release their shipments at any port easily.
By operating the logistical services centres in Alexandria, Damietta and Dekheila ports, the one-stop system will reach a coverage rate of approximately 95% of the total goods imported to Egypt. The port of Ain Sokhna will be a distinguished model for all ports, Maait said.