Promoting Trade Opportunities in Southeast Asia

How the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Single Window is Transforming Cross-Border Trade and Enhancing Business Competitiveness in the Southeast Asian region


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Southeast Asia is a critical trading partner for the United States, with the region being the fourth largest U.S. trading partner, and the United States being the second largest to Southeast Asia. In addition, U.S. exports to the Southeast Asia region create over half a million jobs across all 50 U.S. states. Expanding trade flows have been a priority for both the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United States, yet exporters in the region face slow and inefficient trade hampered by the need to obtain government-issued certificates and the need to physically send certificates to importers to receive lower tariffs.


Nathan, a Cadmus Company, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the development and launch of the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), an online portal that connects and integrates the National Single Windows of all 10 countries to exchange electronic trade data and enable automated customs clearance. In December 2019, all ten ASEAN countries successfully linked to the ASW to exchange electronic customs documents.

The team helped countries design, launch, and implement their national single window programs, developed the necessary regional legal reforms to operate the ASW, harmonized and standardized data among countries to enable the exchange of trade documents, and incorporated private sector feedback to improve the platform.


The ASW has led to enormous benefits for both traders and governments. For traders, the ASW decreases the cost of doing business as it replaces the need for paper-based regulatory documents, like preferential certificates of origin and phytosanitary certificates, which reduces administrative costs—saving traders more than US$4 billion since 2018.

The ASW also enables governments to share advanced information using export data to facilitate the clearance of imports, translating into faster clearance for traders. Governments have benefited as the ASW reduces opportunities for corruption, promotes transparency, and improves the accuracy of information through digitization. These combined benefits lead to greater prosperity and sound governance in Southeast Asia, laying a strong foundation for future U.S. economic and business interests in the region.

The ASW has been catalytic in driving the countries around the region to automate customs. USAID has contributed approximately US$13 million to the ASW, while leveraging ASEAN countries’ investment of US$250 million to create, connect, and maintain their custom single windows to link successfully to the ASW. The ASW exemplifies a successful partnership between the United States and ASEAN.

Learn more about our work in ASEAN