The Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) is a computerized system designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva to administer a country's customs.
ASYCUDA covers most foreign trade procedures and is used by over 90 countries worldwide. As of 2019, some version of the system is utilized by 93% of Customs Administrations in CARICOM and all OECS countries. The system handles ships’ manifests and customs declarations, accounting, transit, and suspense procedures for Imports and Exports. It generates trade data that can be used for statistical economic analysis by customs and other Government Departments and stakeholders.
ASYCUDA takes into account the international codes and standards developed by ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), WCO (World Customs Organization), and the United Nations. It can be configured to suit the national characteristics of individual Customs regimes, National Tariff & legislation and provides Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) between traders and Customs using prevailing standards such as XML.
In 1981 UNCTAD received a request from the secretariat of the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) to assist in the compilation of foreign trade statistics in their member States. After an initial evaluation it became quickly apparent that this would require the involvement of Customs clearance offices, and the modernization of Customs clearance procedures, to achieve quality results.
Taking advantage of advances in computer technology, UNCTAD proposed to develop a Customs software system that would be modular, adaptable, and configurable so that it could be used in difficult environments requiring only a small number of trained maintenance staff.
In order for customs administrations and trade to benefit from the latest innovations in Information Technology (IT) UNCTAD regularly designs and develops new versions of its flagship ASYCUDA software, and the fourth and latest iteration, coined ASYCUDAWorld, uses and takes advantage of the latest open and web-based technology.
ASYCUDA in Dominica
ASYCUDA was implemented in the Customs and Excise Division in the Commonwealth of Dominica in 1991. Its principal objectives were designed to:
- Support enhanced management controls, thereby leading to improved revenue yield;
- Encourage faster clearance times for processing of import and export consignments; and
- Provide timely and accurate trade data.
In 2003, the Customs and Excise Division completed the implementation of the ASYCUDA version 2.7, which led to the simplification of procedures and a reduction, through the introduction of the Caribbean Single Administrative Document, in the number of documents required for imports and exports. Furthermore, other benefits of the implementation project resulted in more accurate and complete trade data, as well as the exposure of the Customs and Excise Division to computerization.
However, ASYCUDA 2.7 did not provide the full functionality of a 'state of the art' Customs automated system, such as risk management and selectivity, nor was the software capable of providing a full, open system allowing Direct Trader Input (DTI)/ Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) links with the trading community. Accordingly, an alternative, more efficient technical solution was provided through the implementation of the latest version- ASYCUDAWorld in 2009.
The Customs and Excise Division and the Government of Dominica considered it essential to adopt this already existing software package, which is based on modern web-based client-server architecture, using the most reliable operating systems and database platforms and satisfying the complex functional requirements of a modern Customs Administration.
The upgrading of the existing data processing system into the Customs clearance process has brought about faster clearance of cargo, improved revenue control, and provides up-to-date, accurate information on trade in goods. Linked to an associated program of trade facilitation and administrative reform, the new computerized system has been the cornerstone of the program and continues to improve the performance of the Customs and Excise Division in the Commonwealth of Dominica.
As of 2019, the Customs and Excise Division has upgraded ASYCUDAWorld to version 4.2.2.