Jamaica's Port Community System: Enhancing the status as a major trade hub in the Caribbean
(This is the first of a multi-part series)
Jamaica's plans to improve its cargo and trade logistics capabilities have taken a step forward by way of the acquisition of a port community system (PCS). This project, the largest of its kind in the Americas, covering multiple seaports and airports, will reinforce the country's position as a major regional trade hub.
Various stakeholders within the local port community, including the Port Authorityof Jamaica (PAJ), the Jamaica Customs Agency, and the Shipping Association of Jamaica, have been working assiduously over the past 15 years to make this project a reality, and on November 20, 2015, the PAJ signed a five-year contract with the consortium of SOGET and Bureau Veritas BIVAC for the design, implementation, and maintenance of this critical Jamaican PCS. The project was launched in January 2016 and will be implemented in phases over the next two years, with the main Information and communications technology provider being The Microsoft Corporation.
What is a port community system?
A PCS is a neutral and open electronic platform enabling the intelligent and secure exchange of information between public and private stakeholders in order to improve the efficiency and competitive position of the sea and airports' communities.
How will this affect the port community and the wider Jamaican public?
The PCS implementation is an opportunity to substantially encourage and promote more efficient and effective trading practices, while reducing the cost of doing business thereby marketing and positioning Jamaica as a global logistics hub for the region. This will be critical for Jamaica to take advantage of the 2016 Completion of the Panama Canal Expansion project.
Ultimately, the PCS will directly affect the various stakeholders who operate within the port community by seeking to automate and optimise the current processes utilised for trade transactions. These stakeholders are primarily shipping companies, terminal operators, truckers, Customs, freight forwarders, and customs brokers.
The general public who undertake non-commercial activities such as the shipment of barrels or personal effects will not interact with the PCS directly; however, these persons will realise the benefits of timely and easier clearance of goods through the improved processes and automated systems being utilised at the ports.
For importers and exporters, there will be a significant reduction in processing times and improved consistency, transparency, and predictability of trade transactions.
PCS benefits at a glance:
- Improved and automated processes within the port community.
- Integration of various stakeholder-automated systems within the port community.
- Exchange of messages safely and confidentially among stakeholders.
- Ability for various stakeholders to track and trace cargo.
- Ability to provide real-time statistics to various stakeholders in the trade community.
- Consistent and improved release times of cargo within the port community.
- Reduction of paperwork, clerical work, and administrative tasks in preparing, creating, and sending or receiving documents or information.
- Elimination, or significant reduction, of physical movement of paper documents and waiting times at counters and in offices.
What are the timelines for implementation?
The PCS project will be implemented in phases over the next 24 months. the first phase will focus on Kingston and will become accessible by June 2016. Thereafter, various phases will be implemented within the port community at three-month intervals.
The implementation of this project is timely as it will be integrated with the new Customs Management System - ASYCUDA World. Combined, this will provide the Jamaican trading community with modern systems and procedures and a streamlined operating platform.