Customs aims at getting businesses to go global
Jamaica Customs has launched a renewed thrust to get business operators involved in import/export to join the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Programme, membership in which it says would enhance their trade functions. Companies which are able to meet and maintain the stipulated standards of international best practices are designated as low risk and enjoy a raft of benefits, including some levels of pre-approved clearance for their goods.
Benefits of the AEO programme, as explained by Tanya Mills, senior customs officer, during a presentation to the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce board of directors meeting last week, include reduced theft and losses, fewer delayed shipments, reduced security and safety incidents, reduction in demurrage, reduced crime and vandalism, as well as improved security and communication between supply chain partners.
Speaking with The Gleaner afterwards, her colleague Annmarie Stewart, who is also a senior customs officer, explained that more companies logging onto the system would benefit Jamaica Customs as well since it would allow the agency to direct scare resources and personnel elsewhere.
"After we vet these companies to be low risk, they can bring in their containers on a smoother basis, then the non-compliant companies would be the ones that we put more attention to," she explained. However, meeting the standards which are consistent with global trade practices has proven difficult for some local companies.
Of the more than 300 companies which first applied for acceptance to the AEO, just over 180 were accepted. But Jamaica Customs is on a public awareness drive to get Jamaicans to understand and appreciate the benefits of the programme, especially with countries with which Jamaica has a mutual recognition agreement (MRA).
"We are also pushing to sign an MRA with, let's say our major business partner, the USA, so when the exporter exports from Jamaica and it moves seamlessly through the ports here, it will also move seamlessly through those of the USA," she said.
The criteria for companies looking to join the AEO are as follows:
- Conducting business for a minimum of three years.
- Imports a minimum of six full containers per year.
- Exports a minimum of one full container per year.
- Compliant with Jamaica Customs Agency and all other government regulatory agencies.
- Complete all the mandatory security requirements
- Sign a memorandum of understanding.