ASYCUDA Improves Operations at Customs

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Chief Information Officer at Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), André Williams (left), checks the server that runs the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), along with Acting Operations Manager, Owen Gayle.

Story Highlights

  • Chief Information Officer at the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), André Williams, says implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) has significantly improved the effectiveness and efficiency of operations at the entity.
  • The ASYCUDA, which is a web-based system designed to transform the agency to a paperless operation through the use of electronic documents, was introduced a few years ago through a US$4-million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
  • ASYCUDA was designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), aimed at assisting with Customs reform. The primary purpose of ASYCUDA is to help countries facilitate trade by strengthening the capacity of Customs administrations to carry out their operations more effectively.

Chief Information Officer at the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), André Williams, says implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) has significantly improved the effectiveness and efficiency of operations at the entity.

The ASYCUDA, which is a web-based system designed to transform the agency to a paperless operation through the use of electronic documents, was introduced a few years ago through a US$4-million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Notwithstanding the hiccups to the system recently, the ASYCUDA reform has resulted in a 50 per cent decrease in processing time and a minimum of 50 per cent reduction in documentation costs related to the importing and exporting of goods.

The new automated system is in keeping with the Government’s strategy to improve trade facilitation and service delivery in customs administration and will see customs declarations, shipping manifests, as well as accounting procedures and transit and suspense procedures all being conducted electronically.

“There is greater efficiency, transparency and accountability on the part of our business partners, as well as the JCA, [because] there is an immediate electronic submission of the declaration and supporting documents,” Mr. Williams told JIS News in an interview.

He noted that the online portal is used by customs officers, stakeholders and clients, including exporters, who are key players within the supply chain, in terms of trade and exports.

“They (exporters) are now privy to having a username and a password for the system, which allows them to log on from wherever to prepare the export declaration to Customs,” he explained.

Mr. Williams added that with the previous formalities, the exporters would have had to visit the agency with a printout or a handwritten document, but with the new system, persons are able to access and complete the necessary paperwork online and are also able to scan and upload supporting documents, such as invoices and permit licences.

Mr. Williams pointed out that the information is routed electronically to Customs and gives persons the option of paying online or utilising an advance deposit account.

“The export fee for Customs is static at $3,005.00… so the exporters are able to make use of an advance deposit account, which allows them to bypass the cashiering procedure. So, once they submit the declaration, it moves directly in a paid status and is routed electronically to the examining officer, expediting the process significantly,” the Chief Information Officer highlighted.

He added that ASYCUDA also removes boundary gaps, as documents can be presented from anywhere – Kingston or Montego Bay – by the exporter or broker, as the system does not restrict submission.

“On the import side, the system allows for greater visibility and transparency, as we are now allowing the free movement of cargo that is not of interest to Customs or the regulators, while narrowing the scope on items that are deemed as high risk without delaying the overall process,” Mr. Williams pointed out.

He said that the system encourages trade, as persons are having a much easier process in terms of doing business through the agency, resulting in a simpler, more transparent and efficient process for compliant traders.

To further boost efficiency and increase benefits to customers, plans are in high gear for the implementation of an online exporter registration system.

“This will be one of the new models that we are introducing for the ASYCUDA, in partnership with Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), and we are now finalising the features and functionalities, which will also include online payment and paperless submission to JAMPRO, which will review and approve the exporters’ application,” Mr. Williams noted.

ASYCUDA was designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), aimed at assisting with Customs reform. The primary purpose of ASYCUDA is to help countries facilitate trade by strengthening the capacity of Customs administrations to carry out their operations more effectively.

It is being implemented in more than 90 countries throughout the world and within CARICOM, with Jamaica now one of those that have implemented the system and are making full use of it for customs formalities.

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