Enabling Smart Borders:
While trade transactions are initiated long before border passage and end long after it, border administration processes are some of the most keenly felt and visible frictions. The recent deal at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, with its emphasis on border management, reconfirmed that this is the first step to facilitating trade.
Passing the border can be one of the rare instances of direct interaction between business and government officials. Naturally, this interaction results in tensions and suggestions for improvement on both sides. In particular, business sees an opportunity for border agencies to streamline activities and adopt more sophisticated information technology (IT).
Private-sector supply chain actors are excited about the broader possibilities of greater exchange and use of supply chain data to enable new and better services. The benefits of smarter borders are clear: in Thailand, time to export decreased from 24 to 14 days as a direct result of process improvements (Figure 1). Of course, different countries are at very different stages of development in the sophistication of their border management. Progress is challenging, as implementation of existing IT solutions involves multiple stakeholders whose interests may not be aligned.
Figure 1: Border-control Process Improvements:Thailand Reduced Time to Export by 10 Days2
Note: (*) Document preparation, customs clearance, port and terminal handling and inland transportation & handling
Sources: World Bank, Doing Business dataset; International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Economic Outlook database
This report aims to provide both public and private actors with a clearer view of the path towards smarter borders. With this goal in mind, promising examples of progress in border administration efficiency around the world have been identified.3 Drawing from five country-based case studies – South Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, Kenya and Brazil – lessons are gleaned from their technical solutions. In addition, and potentially even more important, the case studies also provide insight on success factors when implementing those solutions.