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JAMPRO/Fiscal Services Limited Promoting E-Trade To Improve Ease Of Business And Boost Competitiveness

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The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and Fiscal Services Limited are intensifying efforts to promote e-trade as a way to improve efficiency in doing business in Jamaica while boosting competitiveness and promoting cross border trade. The workshop which comes as the latest Global Competitiveness Report reveals that Jamaica has moved up the ranking over last year, is specifically aimed at fostering awareness and knowledge of how to use the Jamaica Trade Point On-line Portal co-ordinated by JAMPRO to carry out trade-related processes.

Sancia Templer, Acting President of JAMPRO, has cited e-trade as a critical part of Jamaica’s effort to further improve its competitiveness ranking. Both the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report and Doing Business Report 2006 are important international benchmarks which measure a country’s competitiveness and its attractiveness as a destination to do business,“ Mrs. Templer stated. She added that both reports put high premium on low red tape, a friendly tax system and ease of doing business as critical to competitiveness.

In this regard, JAMPRO and Fiscal Services are collaborating with a number of other government trade-related institutions on the staging of the Jamaica Trade Point E-trade Facilitation Workshop on October 12, 2006 beginning at 8:15 am, at the Knutsford Court Hotel. The workshop which is funded by the EU’s Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP), is being held under the theme: “E Trade, Improving Business Competitiveness”.

Berletta Forrester, Business Facilitation Manager at JAMPRO indicated that the workshop is being held to take exporters, customs brokers, freight forwarders and other individuals who import and export as a business, through the paces of Jamaica Trade Point, which was established to minimize red tape by reducing the time it takes to process documents critical to the trade process.

The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business in a 2005 Report stated that a “single window can simplify and facilitate, to a considerable extent, the process of providing and sharing the necessary information to fulfill trade-related regulatory requirements for both traders and authorities. The use of such a system can result in improved efficiency and effectiveness of official controls and can reduce cost to both traders and trade agencies due to better use of resources. “A single window,” the report adds, “can lead to a better combination of existing governmental systems and processes, while at the same time promoting a more open and facilitative approach to the way in which Governments operate and communicate with the business community.

Mr. Lorenzo Grant, Managing Director of Fiscal Services Limited explained that the Jamaica Trade Point trade facilitation portal was established in 2003 as part of the Government of Jamaica’s e-government thrust. “It is the central hub in a dynamic network of online government services related to trade. This includes JAMPRO, Jamaica Customs; the Trade Board; and the Ministries of Agriculture; Health and National Security as well as the Bureau of Standards. Kingston Wharves Limited joined the Partnership earlier this year, demonstrating the importance of private and public sector collaboration on initiatives aimed at facilitating a business-friendly environment.

Jamaica Trade Point serves as the first Caribbean example of this single-window model which promises to revolutionize the local trading environment. Accessible at www.jamaicatradepoint.com, the portal which is coordinated by JAMPRO and powered by Fiscal Services Limited, allows importers and exporters to carry out a number of trade-related transactions online. These include exporter registration, the processing of e-manifests; the creation of commercial invoices; submission of the single entry export and import C87 form through Customs as well as applications for import and export licences through the Trade Board.

“The online services of JAMPRO, the Trade Board, Jamaica Customs and Kingston Wharves Limited, are up and running. Services related to the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and National Security, the Port Authority and Bureau of Standards are to be rolled out over the next several months. When activated, clients will be able to apply for certain agricultural and health certificates and permits, as well as permits through the Bureau of Standards,” Mr. Grant said. “A critical target for Jamaica Trade Point over the next couple months is to fully integrate all the online services through the web portal and significantly minimize the use of paper. This will allow for better service to clients and the seamless navigation of documentation between agencies. The real-time sharing of information between government agencies as well as the portal’s document-tracking feature reduce the need for direct customer interaction, saving the customer’s transaction time and costs,” Mr. Grant stated.

In further highlighting the positive impact of e-trade, Mrs. Forrester from JAMPRO cited an example from the 2006 Doing Business Report which observed that: “In 1989, Singapore introduced electronic filing of all documents necessary for trading. Trade Net linked 34 government agencies responsible for customs clearance, export and import permits, import duties, certificates of origin, and trade statistics… Within two years, the time for cargo clearance was cut from four days to 30 minutes.”

Cross Border Trade, determined as the number of documents, signatures and time necessary to export and import, has been identified as one of the critical indicators of competitiveness according to the Doing Business Report 2006.

Mrs. Forrester observed that the jExporter.com system which is the JAMPRO online service connected to Jamaica Trade Point is already making an impact with approximately 90 per cent of new exporters registering online rather than coming into the office. The Trade Board is also reporting a 60 per cent usage of its online import and export permit system.

She said that the workshop will involve demonstrations of online registration and electronic submission of documentation; presentation on Jamaica Trade Point; the Export Access Monitoring Network; the World Trade Point Federation and JAMPRO’s online procurement service, Caribbean Business Opportunity Service (CBOS).

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