JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is being lauded for moving to introduce the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) web-based application for its transactions.
  • Under the system, most paper intensive Customs processes will be replaced with online procedures, which will enable the JCA’s clients, including customs brokers and shipping agencies, to undertake electronic transactions, including manifest submissions, declarations, and payments.
  • These engagements are expected to simplify and standardise procedures for customers, reduce waiting time, provide more accurate and consistent tax calculations, and address revenue leakage through enhanced system controls and accountability.

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is being lauded for moving to introduce the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) web-based application for its transactions, which is expected to yield significant cost savings and improved service delivery.

Under the system, most paper intensive Customs processes will be replaced with online procedures, which will enable the JCA’s clients, including customs brokers and shipping agencies, to undertake electronic transactions, including manifest submissions, declarations, and payments.

These engagements are expected to simplify and standardise procedures for customers, reduce waiting time, provide more accurate and consistent tax calculations, and address revenue leakage through enhanced system controls and accountability.

ASYCUDA Regional Advisor to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Jamie Mendoza, says the JCA, and in particular Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner of Customs, Major (Ret’d) Richard Reese, must be acknowledged for embarking on this “radical transformation.”

“The paperless environment is (intended) to bring down costs and make sure that the competitiveness of Jamaica is improved (in order to) attract foreign direct investment,” he says.

He was speaking at a Trade Facilitation Task Force (TF2) meeting at the Ministry of Industry, Investment, and Commerce in New Kingston, on Thursday, August 27.

Mr. Mendoza said when the JCA was initially approached to move into a paperless environment, it was deemed impossible, “but today, it is a reality.”

“We hope that with the process that we are trying to achieve, in terms of making Jamaica Customs an efficient agency and bringing on-board, also, the other agencies, at least from the clearance processes perspective, and with the other agencies that the Government of Jamaica has, we can have an improved environment, and all the possibilities that you have right now can be made a reality for economic growth,” he added.

The ASYCUDA’s implementation, slated for completion by March 2016, is being initiated as a pilot at all sufferance wharves islandwide, inclusive of the state-owned oil refinery, Petrojam, the first importer to benefit under this phase.

A sufferance wharf is a facility licensed by Customs authorities for clearance of imported cargo.

Implementation of the ASYCUDA is consistent with the Government’s focus on improving trade facilitation and service delivery in Customs administration.

State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, who also spoke at the meeting, said the Government has increasingly recognised the importance of trade facilitation “which is mainly focused on simplifying border and Customs procedures and improving Customs clearance efficiency.”

She noted that the administration is working to improve trade facilitation and increase the country’s competitiveness by making trade transactions simpler and smoother through a number of initiatives.

Citing findings contained in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said countries with efficient customs regimes, good transport networks, and fewer documents requirements, are more competitive globally.

She said the report also indicated that Jamaica could record growth, averaging five per cent per annum, if the country’s trade and investment process is significantly improved.

“Therefore, improving trade facilitation is critical in achieving the levels of economic growth that the country requires,” she said.

In the meantime, Major Reese told JIS News that the ASYCUDA is expected to increase the JCA’s revenue by 20 per cent and reduce administrative costs by 10 per cent.

As at August 3, 2015, all exporters are required to use ASUCUDA (World) to submit electronic declarations to the JCA. It is expected that all importers will be brought on stream by December 2015.

ASYCUDA was developed by UNCTAD, with ASYCUDA World being the most recent version of the software.

The project is funded by the Government of Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The Trade Facilitation Task Force(TF2) meeting was held to discuss issues raised at its validation workshop in May 2015. This, in order to develop an implementation roadmap to improve trade facilitation in Jamaica and increase the country’s global competitiveness.

TF2 is housed at the offices of the Trade Board, and is responsible for promoting and coordinating measures to improve the business environment through trade facilitation.