ASYCUDAWorld is the latest result of a process that began when UNCTAD identified the first signs of the commercial potential of the World Wide Web. UNCTAD’s Trade Efficiency Summit (Columbus, Ohio, 1994) looked at how to reduce transaction costs by applying information technologies to every link of the trade transaction chain. At the time, the potential annual cost savings were estimated at up to $100 billion.

The $100 billion target remains elusive, but an initiative launched by the G-7 was based on the belief that it was nonetheless achievable, as long as customs data requirements can be harmonized and simplified. That objective is now being pursued by the Brussels-based World Customs Organization, which is developing a global, harmonized standard data set that uses uniform electronic messages. The WCO Customs Data Model, as it is called, is likely to have a major impact on the processing of business-to-business, business-to-government and government-to-government transactions. 

These developments, combined with the fact that 85 countries around the world are already using the same customs IT system, ASYCUDA, represent a formidable opportunity for using the Internet to make international trade simpler and cheaper whilst also making international markets more accessible to enterprises from developing countries.

ASYCUDAWorld builds upon the successful experiences of ASYCUDA++, which was designed to function in difficult telecommunications environments, but also to operate through GSM networks that are already widespread in developing countries. Being web-based, the ASYCUDAWorld system will allow Customs Administrations and traders to handle most of their transactions – from Customs Declarations to Cargo Manifests and Transit documents – via Internet.

History of ASYCUDA

Founded in the early 80’s to automate the operations of Customs Administrations, the UNCTAD ASYCUDA Programme has become the leading media of Customs modernization worldwide. The ASYCUDA software is today the core component of comprehensive, Integrated Customs Information Systems in more than 80 countries. 

The main objective of the program is to assist countries to achieve a global aim – Facilitation of Trade, by strengthening the Customs Administrations’ operational capacity to carry out their fiscal and control missions, through the implementation of modern and reliable systems.

The ASYCUDA Business Strategy follows the founders’ strategic objectives:

  1. ASYCUDA should assist Customs Administrations’ modernisation and reforms, by supporting both facilitation of legitimate trade and efficiency of Customs clearance controls.
  2. ASYCUDA must implement harmonized codes, international standards, simplified procedures etc. The expected basic outputs are a uniform application of the Customs law and regulations, a better command on the collection of duties and taxes, and the availability of timely and accurate statistics.
  3. ASYCUDA should fit the requirements of all Customs operations worldwide: A unique, parameterised system, which brings a vast economy of scale, allowing UNCTAD to propose very cost-effective solutions. Country-specific requirements must be fulfilled provided they are not incompatible with objective 2. In addition, any specific enhancement of ASYCUDA must maintain the functional and technical coherence of the system.
  4. ASYCUDA is provided by UNCTAD at no cost . The implementation of the system is carried out through UNCTAD Technical Assistance projects, comprising general support activities, training, documentation and/or specific product developments on a cost-recovery [non profit] basis.
  5. ASYCUDA products should match highest quality standards of the industry. In order to do so, the ASYCUDA software will make use of latest reliable technologies available on the market .

The implementation of these strategic concepts has led to the development of three major versions of the software product, ASYCUDA Ver. 1, ASYCUDA Ver. 2 and ASYCUDA Ver. 3 (ASYCUDA++), and the current development of ASYCUDAWorld.