Certificates no longer needed to export some goods - BSJ
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
EXPORTERS of certain categories of processed food will no longer require a certificate to have their goods leave Jamaica.
The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) said yesterday that companies which require certification from the entity in order to meet the requirements of importing jurisdictions will continue to be facilitated, but the Customs Agency will no longer need the certificate in order for these foods to leave the country.
The change in policy will apply to marmalade, jellies, jams, guava cups, guava halves, fruit nectar, tamarind nectar, sauces, canned and concentrated orange juice, pineapple juice, slices and chunks, canned tomatoes, tomato juice, certain canned ackees, canned concentrated grapefruit juice and susumber.
Similarly, processed meats, cured and uncured, frankfurter, wiener, bologna, Vienna and canned soups will no longer require a certificate for export.
Rice and peas, stew peas, beef balls, ackee and saltfish, mackerel and banana, curried mutton, stewed beef, macaroni and mince, and oxtail in wine will also no longer require an export certificate.
The primary markets to which the produce are exported are the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and CARICOM.
Michael Ming, president of the Jamaica Agro-Processors Association, said his association supports the move by the BSJ but was quick to put out that there are areas of concerns and that steps will be taken to have discussions with the standards body next week.
"It is a good thing, in the sense that you had certain items that normally require an export certificate, which is time consuming and sometimes an inconvenience for processors," Ming told The Gleaner.
He said, however, that "we do have some concerns when it comes to certain items for export to be allowed to just be exported like that".
Anthony Hylton, minister of industry, investment and commerce, said the removal of the certificate "is yet another positive move in the ministry's deliberate approach to improve the ease of doing business by eliminating irrelevant processes, particularly in our import and export processes".
Yvonne Hall, executive director of the BSJ, in explaining the decision stated that "there are a number of countries that do not require certification for goods to be imported, yet we were still requiring exports to be certified. This change will allow exports to be certified based on the market-access rules that apply in the destination country. It will reduce time and save money."
It currently costs $650 for a certificate.
The Processed Food Act of 1959 and the Processed Food (General) Regulations 1959 prescribe the need for the export certificates. Hall said the purpose was to provide a level of assurance of the safety and quality of locally processed foods destined for the overseas market.
"However, these markets now have their own standards against which they determine the suitability of goods for import which has nullified the utility of the export certificate," she told The Gleaner.
Meanwhile, Ming explained that exporters will still require a certificate from the BSJ. He said food processors who have not fully implemented food-safety systems are required to have their products tested batch by batch, by the Bureau, in order to guarantee quality.
"It is not focused on the integrity of the product," he said of the certificate being removed, noting that there are other checks and balances within the system to ensure quality, arguing that exporters cannot get to the doors of Jamaica Customs until they have satisfied the Bureau about the integrity of their items.