Modernizing Cambodia's Customs Processes: EAD Launch for Cross-Border Trade 

On the 1st of November 2023, a soft launch of the Electronic Advance Data (EAD) interface between Cambodia Post's Customs Declaration System (CDS) and ASYCUDAWorld of the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) took place, marking a significant step in the digitization of customs processes for international postal shipments. 

The EAD is an integral component of the Improving Small Package E-Trade for SMEs (SeT4SME) project, a two-year initiative (2021-2023) of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and implemented by Swisscontact in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce (MoC). The primary objective of this project is to bolster Cambodia's trade performance, foster inclusive economic growth, and enhance trade facilitation by promoting transparency in trade practices and reducing the time and cost associated with cross-border e-commerce.

Within Workstream 1, dedicated to Institutional Capacity Support for Electronic Advanced Data (EAD) Implementation, the focus is on establishing a fully functional EAD system by seamlessly integrating GDCE's ASYCUDAWorld and Cambodia Post's CDS. This workstream encompasses various supportive interventions, including awareness campaigns, capacity building, and public relations efforts, both prior to and after the EAD deployment. Additionally, it envisions aiding Cambodia Post in strengthening strategic partnerships with other industry stakeholders to expand its capabilities in mail and logistics, particularly for small package deliveries.

The surge in e-commerce activities, driven by technological advancements, has led to a substantial increase in cross-border small package trade. In the realm of cross-border e-commerce, postal operators and customs administrations play pivotal roles, directly influencing Cambodia's standing in the global trade ecosystem. Postal networks empower Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by providing them with an affordable and direct avenue to ship goods to customers, reducing their reliance on distributors, customs brokers, and retailers. The substantial growth in cross-border e-commerce shipments poses various challenges for Customs authorities, including the need for swift release and clearance, effective revenue collection, and security management, as well as statistical analysis. 

Recognizing these challenges, the Cambodian government is committed to embracing modern information and communication technology (ICT) in customs and postal processes, particularly the implementation of Electronic Advance Data (EAD), which involves the standardized exchange of postal goods declaration information between ASYCUDAWorld of the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) and the Customs Declaration System (CDS) of Cambodia Post. 

Efficient electronic sharing of shipment information is pivotal in facilitating cross-border trade. The electronic exchange of advanced information among customs administrations and relevant border agencies is vital in countering the transport of counterfeit and prohibited items, drugs, and other hazardous goods in the global supply chain. It also streamlines cross-border control procedures, reducing unnecessary hindrances for traders. This allows Customs ample time to process shipment data against risk criteria before arrival or departure, enabling them to provide pre-arrival and pre-departure advice on the necessary actions for each shipment. 

In this context, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was established on the 31st of June 2023 between GDCE and Cambodia Post, in the presence of representatives from the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (GATF), its implementing partner Swisscontact, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the Universal Postal Union (UPU). 

The National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) meeting on October 11, 2021, placed a significant emphasis on the critical aspects of electronic data exchange and digital trade facilitation. During this event, the SeT4SME project received prominent recognition. Furthermore, UNCTAD's eTrade Readiness report acknowledged the project as a primary catalyst for advancing the country's eTrade Readiness. The EAD aims to be live in 2023. 

Officially inaugurated in February of the preceding year, the project's launch event was presided over by His Excellency Pan Sorasak, who was the Minister of Commerce at that time. It is worth noting that substantial preparatory efforts commenced in mid-2021. 

GDCE has been implementing ASYCUDA at all ports and checkpoints in Cambodia to capture and process customs declaration data for both exports and imports. ASYCUDA, developed by UNCTAD, is currently utilized by approximately 100 countries and territories worldwide. Cambodia Post has been employing the UPU-developed CDS since 2019. MoC and GATF, through the Small Package E-Trade for Small and Medium Enterprises (SeT4SME) project, jointly support the development of EAD. 

The integration of GDCE's ASYCUDAWorld and Cambodia Post's CDS in the EAD system signifies a significant leap toward efficiency and security in cross-border trade. As e-commerce continues to thrive and small package trading flourishes, this development is crucial in maintaining Cambodia's position in the global trade chain and fostering the growth of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The collaborative efforts of various stakeholders and international organizations further underscore the significance of this endeavor in shaping Cambodia's trade landscape for the better. 

Improving Small Package E-Trade for SMEs
Improving Small Package E-Trade for SMEs (SeT4SME) is a two-year project (2021-2023) for the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation. This project aims to support Cambodia in improving its trade performance and driving inclusive growth in the country by enhancing trade facilitation implementation with improved transparency in trade practices and reduced time and cost of cross-border e-trade.