Implementing a single window for trade
Implementing a single window for trade would greatly enhance business operations within Jamaica's trading community. The country is on its way to developing a single window to provide one entry point for all import, export and transit related regulatory requirements, as a means of improving connectivity between port and terminal operators, customs offices, other regulatory agencies, and traders. The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business defines a single window for trade as "a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry."
In order to bring this to fruition, trade-related entities within government 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 is expected to allow importers and exporters to lodge documents electronically and facilitate the electronic exchange of information between government agencies and traders. This promises to reduce the time and money it takes to carry out trade transactions.
Sounds familiar? Well it should, as traders will already be familiar with two pillars of the single window. The recently implemented Customs Management System (ASYCUDA, Automated System for Customs Data) facilitates the electronic submission of customs declarations and shipping manifests. The Port Community System promises to provide an electronic messaging interface to facilitate the exchange of information along the supply chain.
While some trade regulatory entities have computerised some of their processes, these initiatives were implemented separately by each entity, resulting in limited integration or coordination between the related systems. The result was that importers and exporters still had to visit multiple entities to complete approval processes and sign multiple physical documents. Once the processes are re-engineered and the automated systems are fully integrated, it is estimated that the time taken to import and export goods would be reduced.
The implementation of the single window will require further modernisation of other trade and border agencies to bring trade facilitation practices and standards in line with international best practice.
The shipping community is eagerly anticipating all the electronic upgrades which will facilitate trade and support the emergence of Jamaica as a significant global logistics hub.