The operations of approximately 20 State entities that facilitate imports and exports are earmarked for digitisation under the Jamaica Single Window for Trade (JSWIFT) initiative, which is being implemented by the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA). Jamaica.
JSWIFT is a single electronic platform providing fully automated access to all cross-border regulatory agencies, enabling traders and their representatives to transact all businesses online.
The one-stop shop allows importers and exporters to apply for licences, permits, certificates and any other international trade-related documents through a single portal.
JCA’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) and JWIFT Project Manager, André Williams, tells JIS News that the Trade Board Limited (TBL) is the first entity onboard, with seven others to transition during this fiscal year (2020/21).
The Trade Board, which falls under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF), is the regulatory agency designated as Jamaica’s certifying authority for goods exported under various trade agreements.
The others being targeted this year are MICAF’s Plant Quarantine and Veterinary Services Divisions, the Hazardous Substances Regulatory Authority (HSRA), Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), and the Ministry of Health and Wellness and its portfolio agencies – the Pesticides Control Authority (PCA) and the Pharmaceutical and Regulatory Affairs Department.
“These entities account for approximately 75 to 80 per cent of the permits being issued and would be referenced by our traders for the cross-border movement of goods whether in or out of the country,” Mr. Williams informs.
He tells JIS News that the JCA has initiated a pilot phase of JSWIFT targeting segments of the Trade Board’s operations facilitating motor-vehicle importers and, thereafter, entities licensed to import commodities such as sugar and milk powder as well as machinery.
This, he notes, was preceded by a preparatory phase to get the necessary infrastructure, business requirements, and harmonisation of data in place for the new services.
This preliminary phase involved recruitment of supporting staff, needs assessment and procurement of hardware, among other things.
Mr. Williams says activities related to the Trade Board that will be facilitated include electronic registration, paperless application for licensing of entities such as new and used-car dealerships and scrap-metal exporters, and quota management for commodities such as sugar and milk powder, with the submission of the requisite supporting documents.
This, he points out, will enable an automated approval process for both import and export permits, and for undertaking amendments or corrections.
“So, we are talking about a full online service… full automation for all the import and export services and related dependencies … from end-to-end… an automated workspace for the trader, his designated agent and the TBL officers,” he adds.
Mr. Williams further highlights that effective June 1, all exporters who need permits from the Trade Board are required to register using the JSWIFT portal at www.jswift.gov.jm.
He advises that the JCA has already commenced engaging several of the other targeted entities, noting that they “are at different stages” with the precursory activities for full implementation.
Mr. Williams adds that when the process has been completed for all 20 entities, “we will be seeing significant improvements in our way of doing business”.
“This will be of significance to our traders for the sustainability and growth of their business and our economy. It will have [a positive] impact on the availability and delivery of our services to meet the needs of our clients,” he further states.