We have been talking about the Single Window to Government for a long time. 

The Single Window concept is also one of the pillars of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which means that when the agreement is ratified by enough countries – it will become obligatory according to international law for the 164 members if the organization. 

A Single Window is a tool for trade facilitation, cost-efficiency vut also for increased compliance. 

I was the lead on the introduction on the Single Window in Sweden, the first system ever implemented operationally. The Swedish Single Window is still considered as the leading example in the world. When we introduced the Swedish Government Single Window all our KPIs improved and we do measure everything.

I have since then been involved – one way or another – in most of the systems that is operational today. I have colleagues in the company that have been leading project members on the rest. 

We know how do this successfully, simply since we have done it several times before and we have learned from the process. 

So what is a Government Single Window ? There are a lot of misunderstandings on this account. So let’s get it right. 

First of all, a Government Single Window has to be one National Single Window owned by Government. If there are more than one Single Window then it really isn’t a single window but multiple windows shaping a green house for bad processing. 

Secondly, a Single Window means that the private sector sends one single set of information to one single dedicated entry point in Government and recieves one single answer back. All electronic, without papers – including all parts of the process (also permits, licensing and potential supplementary documents). And not sent as PDFs. The Single Window also should have a single payment principle and mechanism.

Thirdly, a Single Window is primarily about re-designing Government processes (BPR) and organizing a front-back office model in delivery of Government services. 

It is also easy to say what a Single Window it is not. It is not a technology or software solution. The Single Window concept has been highjacked by technology for too long. Some people has been arguing that Single Window is about ICT – believe me, it is not. No SW ICT solution works without a Major BPR before. 

Now, an ICT solution is necessary to go operational at the end of the day and there are a number of different software products available on the market (even COTS) that can do the job. But – BPR first, ICT second. 

What about the Port Community Systems (PCS)? Are they not Single Windows? Some people argue that they are. Well, not in my book. The PCS has a type of SW structure, but they are developed to handle a port information flow. Good enough. These are important systems playing a well defined role in the global supply chain and PCS can become excellent feeder systems to a national Government Single Window. 

When BPR is done, the new processes and roles needs to be negotiated and a (national) Government decision needs to be taken to implement the new one-stop-shop border model with a paperless environment. Single Window really means a farewell to the paper environment. 

So how about Trade Portals? Now a Trade Portal is not a Single Window, but it embraces the need for Government cordination and joint ownership of a single information channel. It is actually often a great idea to start a Single Window project with the introduction of a Trade Portal as a first step.

Customs has to play a vital role in any Single Window introduction and as the leading border agency involved in international trade, having the natural connections with international trade community and thus normally plays the role as the lead agency hosting and managing the Single Window solution in a country.

How many real Single Windows are there in the world today? A number of different independent studies says that it is less than ten countries having operational systems in place. I agree with that number. I have seen them all. However this will change in the future. Single Window will become the next big thing – even though the concept itself is twenty years old. 

We are already involved in several pre-studies in different parts of the world. We need more best practice examples. We need more countries to show the political will and leadership to jump put of the comfort zone and into the new water.

What about the future? Connecting a Single Window and an Authorised Exonomic Operator (AEO) programme is the ideal solution for safe, secure and facilitated trade. Such a solution shapes a National Government AEO Status and it optimizes the cost-efficiency for all stakeholders and it provides the best benefit package potential. Adding on AEO Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with other countries this will create the safe and secure trade superhighways we have been dreaming about for decades – the future trade environment with streamlined reporting. Do you want to know more? Do you want to design, develop and implement a Single Window?  Give me a call. 

It is time to open the Single Window to Government and to get fresh air into the global supply and value chain. 

Time to fly out again for new missions. I spend a lot of time in airplanes and airports. And too much time in hotels, around the world. Last year I travelled almost 280 days. Why? The is a job to be done, the world is out there. We need to secure the movement of goods and people. Make it easy to trade and to travel. 

Today we know that trade is the key to development. Trade is what creates growth and wealth of our societies. 

When people travel we get to know each other better, our economies intervene and it becomes impossible to fight. Paertnerships and cooperation instead of wars. 

At the same time terrorists, criminal networks and organized crime know the same thing. So they attack us where it hurts the most. They attack our open societies, our democracies, our willingness to travel. They attack our trading systems and our freedoms. We can’t let them win. Never. Ever. 

I genunely believe that we can create and develop systems that can protoct our freedoms, our lifestyles and our global freiendship. In fact we have already done that. Now we need to make it work. That is the main reason why I travel, why I spend all this time aeay from home. 

I believe that I can contribute to make this place a better place. I will live and die trying.

So I spend hours and days in my office. The office in the sky. Going all around the world on my mission for Customs and Trade. And I will continue to do so. See you in Dhaka, Manilla, Maputo or Lima. I love all of thise places. They are the reality telling me that we are right and the other side is wrong. We have the solutions to make this world better, let’s make it work. 

Millions of people all around the world have read Stieg Larssons trilogy about the superhacker Lisbeth Salander. Nordic Noir holds today world famous crime novel writers like, e.g. Jo Nösbo, Jens Lapidus, Leif GW Persson, Arne Dahl, Liza Marklund, Åke Edwardsson, Camilla Läckberg – my friend Mats Olsson – Lars Kepler and many more. But it all started with Maj Sjöwall/Per Wahlöö writing about Inspector Martin Beck. And it all exploded with Hennning Mankells crime novels about the Ystad police, Kurt Wallander. 

Swedish crime novels rule the world

Henning Mankell sadly passed away last year. He was a very special man. I personally met him several times. He lived mot far away from my house in the South of Sweden and all his novels about Kurt Wallander all takes place in my home town area of Ystad, where I grew up. 

A personal dedication I got from Henning Mankell

In fact Mankell shared his time between Ystad in Sweden and his home in Mozambique, Africa. What people normally don’t know is that he was also the son-in-law of world famous Swedish director Ingemar Bergman.

Swedish actor Rolf Lassgård was the first Kurt Wallander in the movies

It has been great to read about these stories, and the crimes, people, scenery of your own small hometown (Ystad has a popularion of approx. 18300 people) and at the same time to share it with so many others all around the world. Numerous times and in many different countries I have met people that adores Mankells’ stories and we have started talking about it. I have found out that they know so much about my hometown and region through the books.

Henning Mankell, a wonderfull author

What symbolizes Nordic Noir is that these crime novels are really time documents about changes of the Swedish society – dressed up as crime novels. The stories are most times written by well known and experienced autjors and novel writers that have entered the area of crime writing to reach a larger target group of people – still telling their same stories.

Swedish actor Krister Henriksson was the second Kurt Wallander on film

My personal favourites of these writers are; Leif GW Persson, Åke Edwardsson and Henning Mankell. All their books are available in English – and in many other languages – and they are highly recommended.

World famous Shakespear director & actor Kenneth Branagh plays Wallander in BBC series

Mankell has been filmed in two sets of awarded Swedish TV shows and movies. Also UK BBC has filmed the Mankell books in several seasons in a proce awarded version, where Oscar winning actor Kenneth Branagh plays the title role, Kurt Wallander. Mankells hero is really an anti-hero. He is a stubborn, old police – marked with diabetes and an increasing alzheimers desease. Very different from James Bond or Harry Bosch. Kurt Wallander and many of the other Swedish novel characters are simply ordinary people, with faults and bad behaviour. They are likable. 

The strenght of the Nordic Noir is its stories, the reality of it and the complexity of the charachters. 

The Economist has just had an article about the end of Mankells Kurt Wallander. You can read it here: Farewell to Kurt Wallander

Kurt Wallander in the Swedish scenery

So what happens with Kurt Wallander? BBC is now recording and broadcasting the last Mankell stories available. The TV shows will be on air later this year. Will Kurt live or die? Read the books or watch the films. I know – but I will not tell you.