Industry and government urged to 'unite' to optimise facilitation benefits of Single Trade Window

Tue 25 Oct 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
IOE News

Single Trade Window - Government & Industry unite

The trade and logistics sectors have been urged to “unite” with government to ensure the UK’s future border systems facilitate trade as effectively as possible.

Speaking on a webinar yesterday about the government’s plans for a new Single Trade Window, the Institute of Export & International Trade’s (IOE&IT) director of special projects and international development, Kevin Shakespeare, said to traders:

“You have the opportunity to influence how a Single Trade Window is developed.

“The IOE&IT is here to hear the voice of industry, and that means everyone. Whether you’re an importer, exporter, logistics provider or customs broker, we want to hear your views.

“The only way a Single Trade Window will be effective is by uniting the industry.”

He urged traders to share their views on the new border system by completing an ongoing IOE&IT survey.

Tell us once

The UN for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business defines a Single Trade Window as: “a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export, and transit- related regulatory requirements”.

Shakespeare described it as a “tell us once” approach.

“The real concept at the core of the UK Single Trade Window is that information is just inputted once, rather than into multiple government systems,” he said.

“Through not having to input into multiple different systems, businesses have the time to allocate resources more effectively – for example, for trade and duty optimisation, or for customs special procedures,” he added.

Not just IT

Shakespeare was joined on an ‘experts panel’ on the free IOE&IT webinar by Jon Walden, the principal consultant for customs, trade facilitation & export competitiveness at Crown Agents, and Tiago Barbosa, the manager of Brazil’s single window programme.

Walden explained that while much of the attention on the UK’s delivery of a Single Trade Window has been focused on the establishment of new IT infrastructure, the key driver of the programme will be trade facilitation.

“A Single Trade Window is not an IT product, it’s a trade facilitation tool which most countries implement through an IT system,” he said.

He explained that the tool should be designed to enable the UK to benefit from the Trade Facilitation Agreement that was signed by all WTO members in 2017.  He said this will require business process re-engineering, harmonising trade and customs information, simplifying processes, and engagement with industry.

He added that for a developed country like the UK, the new programme should incorporate the provision of commercial documentation, rather than just regulatory information.

“A single window should be created as a trade facilitation tool for everyone,” he said. “If you want to achieve that you need to bring in the commercial documents – including those for declaring origin or banking documents like letters of credit.”

He said that a failure to include commercial information would mean that a “lot of potential is being lost”.


Drawing on his experience establishing a similar system in Brazil, Barbosa agreed with Walden and Shakespeare about the importance of the partnership between the private sector on government. He said that a successful collaboration in Brazil resulted in significant time and cost savings.

“For us the private sector is the expert in cross border trade,” he said. “We realised we should listen to the experts. With this strategy, since the beginning of the single window in Brazil, we reduced the time for imports and exports by eight days. Due to this, the private sector in Brazil is saving $20 billion a year, according to WTO studies.”

View of business

The webinar also included a second panel consisting of businesses discussing the likely impact of the new Single Trade Window on their trading.

The panel included:

  • Sylwia Nowak, senior customs & foreign trade compliance officer at Brose Ltd
  • David Box, manager – advocacy & duty optimisation at GSK
  • Jane Smith, managing director at Jointine Products (Lincoln) Ltd

We will be reporting on this panel in tomorrow’s IOE&IT Daily Update (26 October).