Magazine article International Trade Forum

Trade Facilitation Enhancing Interregional and Intraregional Trade

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Trade Facilitation Enhancing Interregional and Intraregional Trade

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Government of Jamaica has reaffirmed that export-led growth is critical to the country's economic survival. In this age of hyper-globalization, improving the integration of Jamaican goods and services into the global value chain is the primary means of achieving sustainable long-term economic growth. The Government of Jamaica is placing significant emphasis on enhancing trade on both an interregional and intraregional basis to make this a priority.

Traditionally, Caribbean economies have been dependent on a narrow range of goods exports, but as global production has shifted towards Asia, Caribbean countries have experienced significant challenges in maintaining their competitive edge in goods production, particularly as certain trade preferences have expired. Fortunately, as a close examination of the economies of the region reveals, its competitive advantage lies in the services sectors. In addition to growth in the tourism sector, the Caribbean's main export, some Caribbean countries have diversified their services sectors to include areas such as financial services and information and communications technologies.

However, real challenges remain. According to the International Monetary Fund, Jamaica's current account deficit averaged 11.5% in 2010 and 11.7% in 2011. To overcome this economic challenge, the Government of Jamaica is working to improve Jamaica's competitiveness in interregional and intraregional trade by minimizing friction and other impediments in its export process through enhanced trade facilitation. These efforts are central to Jamaica's progress, particularly as it relates to the country's primary economic growth initiative to position the country as the premier shipping and logistics hub in the Americas. This would allow Jamaica to capitalize on the global growth of the shipping and logistics industry, and facilitate the explosion of new service industries in the country and region.

Jamaica's commitment to enhanced trade facilitation

The Government of Jamaica believes trade facilitation is a key component in improving Jamaica's competitiveness. Easing trade and minimizing impediments to exports not only maximizes current exports, but also attracts new trade opportunities. Jamaica is working towards its goals using trade facilitation initiatives and future plans such as:

* Development of a fast track facility: In 2011, Jamaica put in place a 'fast track facility' that streamlines the process for exporters to conduct export-related transactions by bringing many export-related public services under one roof. The facility significantly decreases the time and effort involved in exporting as an exporter can obtain the required export registrations, licences, certifications and advisory services in one location.

* Customs improvements: Recognizing that the efficient operation of the country's customs systems is paramount to an export-driven economy, Jamaica has prioritized the modernization of its customs agency to reduce the time and expenses involved in the customs process. Initiatives include the introduction of online payment of duties, simplified export documents, increased automation and modernized border-crossing administration.

* Development of a port community system and a single electronic window: In May 2012, Jamaica introduced a two-stage tender process for a port community system that will electronically centralize commercial and logistics activities among companies involved in the export and import process. Jamaica also intends to move to a single electronic window, a virtual one-stop-shop that allows the business community to conduct business with the government through a seamless interface. The goal is to use technology to provide faster customs clearance, reduce costs and increase efficiency among the entities involved in the movement of goods. …

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