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Jamaican Customs encouraged to use time-saving systems

Jamaica’s Customs Department is being encouraged to use electronic and other time-saving systems to speed up collection and examination procedures, instead of paper-based audit procedures, which cause delays at Jamaica’s ports. 

The International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva, Switzerland, recently issued a report on non-tariff measures (NTMs) including those that create barriers to trade in Trinidad and Jamaica. The study is part of a 30-country review on NTMs. The Jamaican surveys were conducted from August 2011 to February 2012. The ITC report shows that, domestically, Jamaican firms encountered NTMs across a number of agencies, the most common of which were export inspections. The ITC details several complaints, including the following from Jamaican traders:

• Jamaica Customs often requires a random inspection of goods before they are shipped to ensure that what is being shipped is as stated on the exporting documents. This inspection is time-consuming and delays the export process. Because of the nature of the goods, during inspection the quality of the goods may be compromised and possibly contaminated – Agricultural Exporter

• There is an inconsistency in the application of duty as the law applies it to the invoice value, but Customs uses an assessed value, which is usually higher than the invoice – Importer.

The company often encounters valuation issues at Customs when clearing goods. This results in delays in the clearance of its items.

R.C.N. Smith: 1926 – 2013 Caribbean shipping loses a stalwart

SmithRCNThe Caribbean maritime sector lost a stalwart on Friday April 12 2013 with the passing of R.C.N. ‘Reggie’ Smith, former President of the Shipping Association of Jamaica and former General Council member of the Caribbean Shipping Association.

‘Reggie’ Smith, who had been ailing for some time, died peacefully in a hospital in Florida.

An affable man with a ready smile and a storehouse of humorous anecdotes, ‘Reggie’ Smith served regional shipping as a member of the CSA. He was elected to the CSA’s General Council and served in this forum for much of the early 1980s as Group A Representative and subsequently as Group A Chairman.

Born September 12, 1926 in St Andrew, Jamaica, Reginald Calvin Nathaniel Smith was a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. He was elected President of the Shipping Association of Jamaica and served two separate terms; one in 1981-82 and the second in 1985-1986.

In July 1977, he bought the shipping Agency business in Kingston known as Lasocean Agencies Limited, which he developed into a large and successful enterprise. Growth and expansion brought him into partnership with Charles Johnston with whom he formed the Shipping Services Group of Companies. This group of companies was dissolved shortly before Reggie retired from shipping after more than 50 years. He appointed his son Erol to take the lead in running those of the companies in the group that he had retained.

A foundation member of the CSA’s Silver Club, Reggie Smith will be remembered by the Association for the tremendous work he did in fund-raising for the Association’s Training Trust Fund and particularly his initiative of organizing a raffle at the CSA’s annual gala banquet. This raffle raised thousands of dollars to support the CSA’s fledgling training programme.

Reggie Smith is survived by his children Erol, Roger, Anya-Kaye and Rory, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. 

Trinidad Government to spend US$3bn on maritime projects

28th February 2013: The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is reportedly embarking on two major maritime projects at a total cost of US$3 billion. According to Guardian Media, this is one of several initiatives aimed at creating an investment climate for trade. It quotes T&T’s Trade Minister, Vasant Bharath, at a conference on ‘Improving the Ease of Doing Business in T&T’ at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain in February. Mr. Bharath reportedly indicated that his ministry was on an aggressive path of putting T&T on the world stage and that the two projects were being funded by two local private-sector companies with an international presence. Mr. Bharath did not identify the two companies as he was subject to a confidentiality clause. The two projects are a transshipment port in La Brea, at a cost of US$ 1.7 billion; and a maintenance ship repair facility just off Sea Lots, estimated at US$ 1.2 billion.

Maritime transport policy discussed

1st March 2013: A Regional High-Level Symposium on International Maritime Developments in Montego Bay, Jamaica, resulted in an agreement among Caribbean transport ministers to develop regional policies for maritime transport to ensure that the Caribbean maritime industry operates in a sustainable manner.

According to Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), this move was hailed as significant by Koji Sekimizu, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization. “What they have achieved today was a sort of collective willingness to achieve sustainable maritime policy in the Caribbean region,” said Mr. Sekimizu. 

He said the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil last year had established the way forward in terms of environmental sustainability, but “you cannot talk about sustainable development without shipping. We therefore want to ensure that the shipping itself will be sustainable”.

The high-level meeting, held over four days at the Iberostar Beaches Hotel, brought together ministries and senior officials from the Caribbean maritime sector to discuss critical developments that will affect their countries’ reputation as responsible maritime states. 

Among the issues looked at were opportunities for capacity building, and the maritime labour convention. Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Transport and Works, said the delegates had examined ways in which the region could meet the requirements that have been established by the IMO for various countries. He said there were some challenges for the smaller countries and Jamaica had offered to assist in helping them meet their obligations. Dr. Davies, who is chairman of the Caribbean Transport Ministers, marshalled the discussions and guided the participants into completing the draft Jamaica 2013 symposium resolution, which will determine the way forward for the industry. 

According to the resolution, the agreement for the development of a Caribbean maritime policy is in recognition of the importance of “safe, secure, environmentally sound and efficient maritime transport services for the movement of goods and people, and the socio-economic benefit to states and territories of a clean marine environment to the livelihood and well-being of their inhabitants and the growth of their fisheries and tourism industries.”

The participants are committed to: “Providing the necessary means and support at the national and regional levels for adequate marine environmental research, monitoring and evaluation, in order to maintain the ecological integrity of the marine and coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea, given its critical socio-economic and environmental importance to member states.” 


*GRAPEVINE documents reports which have appeared publicly, in the news and circulated on the internet, so as to provide a historical context for the articles appearing elsewhere in this publication. The Caribbean Shipping Association, Caribbean Maritime and Land & Marine Publications Ltd do not endorse these reports, neither do we take responsibility for their accuracy.