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Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of Jamaica elects 2019 executive

Published:Tuesday | July 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM
The 2019-2020 Executive Team of the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association Jamaica (CBFFAJ). Seated front left: Margaret Sharpe, Honorary Secretary; Ann Brown-Chang, Member; Colin Cunningham, J.P, vice president; Mitzie Gordon Burke-Green, President, Clive Coke, member; Vivienne Frankson, vice Ppresident, Marcia Bent, J.P, Immediate Past President. Back row from left: Roger Stewart, asstistant treasurer, Tancia Foster-Nurse, assistant hon secretary, Vanessa Brown-Harrison, member; Javar Wilson member; Paulette Watt-McIntosh; member; I. Rosemarie Spence Executive Member; Lloy Brown, treasurer, Suzette McNab-Wiggan, member; and Colin Carberry-Walters, Executive Member. Missing are Dermott Morris and Anya-Kaye Smith-Singh.

Mitzie Gordon Burke-Green was returned unopposed for another term as president of the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of Jamaica at the recently held annual general meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Those new to shipping sometimes hear the acronyms and terminology and wonder what the different parties’ roles are in the process. For example, they may ask, who is a customs broker and what does that person do? A customs broker is a person licensed by Jamaica Customs, after passing an examination that covers a broad range of areas, including customs law, customs classification, customs tariff schedule and procedures, import and export regulations, shipping procedures and trade documentation. More officially, the Jamaica Customs Regulations 1955 states that a broker means any person, including a freight forwarder, who, on behalf of a client, transacts business with the Customs, including the entering of all goods of all descriptions under the customs laws, but does not include a ship’s agent. Customs Brokers act on behalf of importers who are processing commercial shipments over U$5000. Exporters may also use the service of a broker to asst their compliance processes. The Jamaica Customs Agency periodically publishes a gazetted list of all the persons in Jamaica who are currently so licensed. This provides guidance to importers who are choosing to engage the services of a broker.

On the other hand, freight forwarders are defined as persons connected within the supply chain who concentrate on the logistics and physical transportation of cargo. They may be in touch with any entity in the exporting process who handles or is aware of a shipment moving via truck, boat, plane or a combination thereof. Freight forwarders are in charge of assembling and completing a variety of documentation and compliance filings. Freight forwarder is a wide-ranging term, whereas a customs broker is more specific. Many freight forwarders can be customs brokers as well (or have access to brokerage services), but not every customs broker is a freight forwarder.

Who, then, is a ship’s agent (known more common locally as a shipping agent)? In simple terms, a shipping agent acts as a representative of the owner of the ship and carries out all essential duties and obligations required by the crew of the ship. It is the ship’s agent who is entrusted with taking care of every need and requirement of the crew, like getting local currency, getting the mail, any repairmen where they are needed, refilling the food and water, and many other such duties.

Shipping agent’s responsibility

Also, along with the above mentioned duties, it is also a shipping agent’s responsibilities might include making sure that related fees are paid to government authorities, such as the port, the harbour master.

Ship owners (who in the Jamaican context are based in other parts of the world), whose ships are calling on Jamaica, can allow themselves to be free of all the details that are required to be processed each and every time a ship makes a port because of the presence of shipping agents.

Thus, shipping agents interact with shipping companies and owners from all over the world. Since a shipping agent is a local person, it enables him/her to achieve the trust of a ship owner, along with the trust of the crew of the ship. The agent must be able to understand and learn what the actual needs of the crew are. This understanding of his/her clients’ necessities, and supplying of the same, thus enables a shipping agent to gain goodwill. Another major thing that needs to be noted about the role and scope of shipping agents is that, it is a ship’s agent who is responsible for the coordination of arrangements and necessary papers when it comes to a port for docking.

The roles of different players in the logistics supply chain are so interwoven that it seems seamless to the recipients of the goods and service. People are working together to move cargo from places as far apart as Jamaica and China, and with needs that are differing – from an online client buying a replacement computer part to a local supplier of sugar moving large bulk shipments.