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1.4 Implementation of a Trade Facilitation Single Window (TFSW)

According to the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), a Single Window for Trade is “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”[1].

The Government of Jamaica is on its way to developing such a facility to provide a single entry point for all import export and transit related regulatory requirements, as a means of improving connectivity between Customs offices, port and terminal operators, other regulatory agencies and traders. The Ministry of Industry Investment and Commerce (MIIC) and the other trade related entities will need to establish the institutional capacity necessary to coordinate implementation and manage operation of the Single Window, allowing the country to benefit from the economic opportunities arising from increased ease of international trade. Once implemented the Single Window will allow importers and exporters to lodge documents electronically, and facilitate the exchange of information between government agencies and traders.  It will reduce the traders’ points of contact from as many as five entities to one single entity, and the length of time from the current twenty days to as little as five days, an estimated reduction in transaction costs of approximately J$2 billion.

Two of three main components of the single window are already ‘in train’:

a. the implementation of the Customs Management System (Asycuda) has been launched and when completed will see customs declarations, shipping manifests, as well as accounting procedures, and transit and suspense procedures all being conducted electronically,

b. the business processes of the various trade regulatory entities[2] were reviewed as a first step towards integrating their existing information systems to create a fully automated web-based system that facilitates TRN validation, exporter registration compliance, and BSJ standards compliance, in addition to other types of validation necessary for processing declarations submitted by importers and exporters.

The third component, implementation of a Port Community System (PCS), is being pursued to provide an electronic messaging interface to facilitate the exchange of information along the supply chain. This activity however will await the results of the pilot implementation of Asycuda World.

While the majority of the trade regulatory entities have computerized some of their processes and offer some services online, these initiatives were implemented separately by each entity resulting in limited integration or coordination of those systems. Therefore even with some degree of automation, importers and exporters still have to visit multiple entities to complete approval processes and sign multiple physical documents. Once the processes are reengineered and the automated systems integrated, it is estimated that the time taken to import and export goods would be reduced by as much as 50% and the number of documents required reduced to two – permit/license and customs entry.

The implementation of the Single Window will require the further modernisation of other trade and border agencies to bring trade facilitation practices and standards in line with international good practice. As part of the effort to make trade easier, the Government, through the Strategic Public Sector Transformation Project[3], will support the restructuring of theBureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) inclusive of a review and improvement of their testing and certification procedures and providing support for coordination enhancement and performance improvement interventions between Jamaica Customs Agency and other border agencies.



[1] Recommendation and Guidelines on Establishing a Single Window, ECE/TRADE/352, September 2004,http://www.unece.org/cefact/recommendations/rec33/rec33_trd352e.pdf

[2] The primary trade regulatory agencies which issue permits and licenses fall under the portfolios of the following Ministries: Industry, Investment and Commerce; Health; and Agriculture and Fisheries.

 

[3] World Bank. Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Loan in the Amount of US$35 Million Equivalent to Jamaica for a Strategic Public Sector Transformation Project. June  6, 2014