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Trade Board reports uptick in Caribbean export activity - Import licences climb 43%, driven by vehicle trade

Published:Wednesday | July 24, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Victor Cummings, trade administrator and head of the Trade Board Limited.

The Trade Board is reporting a spike in exports to Caribbean countries under rules of origin, which permit duty- free shipment of goods.

The agency reported that it issued 4,612 certificates of origin for goods valued at US$137.6 million under various preferential trade agreements for fiscal year 2012/13.

That is an increase of 362 over the previous year's 4,250 certificates.

"Caricom continued to dominate activities in this area, accounting for 41 per cent of the total or 3,269 certificates issued, for a value of US$73,008,539," the report notes.

"There were several new products looking into getting additional markets, so there was increase in the number of exports," said Trade Administrator Victor Cummings.

"We expect there to be a continued increase in that area. We are working with exporters and manufactures, developing an education programme on the rules of origin." Cummings told Wednesday Business.

While Caricom activity saw an uptick, exports to other areas were on the decline. Some 945 export licences were approved compared to 1,795 for fiscal 2012.

"Under trade agreements, benefits can be derived from proving origin. Within Caricom, once we verify that the product is from Jamaica, it can be exported to other Caribbean countries duty free," Cummings said.

The Trade Board approved 16,823 import licences for fiscal 2013, resulting in a 43 per cent increase over the previous year when 11,798 import permits were approved.

Cummings notes that these were mostly motor vehicles, resulting from the duty reduction and change in age limit requirements.

This trend, however, is expected to be reversed this year based on new guidelines.

"We are strongly enforcing verification of the year of the vehicle. If this cannot be proved, the certificate will not be issued," the Trade Administrator said.

The Trade Board performance report indicates that 202 companies applied to the Trade Board to be certified/recertified as motor vehicle dealers. Of this number, 55 were new market entrants.

With the ban on scrap metal exports being lifted in January 2013, the board also facilitated the export of scrap metal by issuing licences with an export value of US$1.87 million from 320 containers as at April 23, 2013.

Fees paid to the board contributed revenue totalling J$112.2 million to the Consolidated Fund, as against the budgeted figure of J$99.36 million. This resulted from a 12.9 per cent increase in revenue, the agency said.

"We are working with government agencies to develop the single trade platform which will facilitate online application for traders instead of running all over the place to get information," the trade administrator said.

"We have also completed our work on the revised motor vehicle policy, which should be sent to Cabinet any day now."