By Caribbean News Now contributor
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Two major economic announcements in Jamaica indicates that the country has regained confidence to achieve growth and the launch of the Electronic Single Window (ESW) is expected to be a game changer for importers and exporters.
Chairman of the Economic Growth Council (EGC), Michael Lee-Chin speaking at the EGC’s eighth quarterly report at Jamaica House on Wednesday , May 15, Lee-Chin informed his audience that ECG has helped to change the narrative of the nation from fiscal consolidation to achieve a GDP growth rate of five percent in four years, stating “We have imbued confidence in the nation, so that the population is confident that if we haul together, five in four is possible.”
Lee-Chin noted that since 2016, “debt to gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen from 147 percent to under 100 percent, net international reserves (NIR) is now greater than 3.1 billion and inflation is at 2.4 percent.”
“The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) policy interest rate is now at “an unheard of” 1.25 percent. consumer confidence is at an all-time high of over 177.5 percent and business confidence is also at an all-time high of 151 percent.”
These achievements are due in part, to the work of the EGC since its establishment in 2016, the Secretariat “has worked tirelessly to ensure that projects are followed up, [and] has had over 380 meetings with stakeholders.”
“The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), which was, in 2018, recognized by Bloomberg as the number-one stock exchange in the world, has been the number-one stock market over the last five years. And the JSE index was 152,000 (points) in April 2016. Today, it is 410,000 (points), an increase of 170 percent over the last three years,” the ECG chairman said.
Meantime, the ECG, an organ of the government of Jamaica was launched to provide advice on a framework of proposed initiatives that were expected to yield economic growth; the Electronic Single Window (ESW) which forms part of Jamaica’s Trade Facilitation Programme is expected to be a game changer for importers and exporters.
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, speaking at the official launch of the Jamaica Trade Information Portal, May 16, said “the ESW will result in greater efficiency in doing business, by reducing turnaround time and cost for transactions, and ensure better use of resources.
The system which forms part of Jamaica’s Trade Facilitation Programme integrates approximately 20 border regulatory agencies into a single platform for all documentation relating to trade is being implemented by the Jamaica Customs agency in collaboration with the ministry of finance and the public service.
It will allow importers and exporters to lodge documents electronically and facilitate the exchange of information between government agencies and traders. It will reduce traders’ points of contact from as many as five entities to one single agency. This includes downloadable forms for applications, licences and permits as well as links to regulatory and various bodies engaged in trade facilitation.
The Jamaica Trade Information Portal, managed by the TBL, provides details on import-export regulations, processes and requirements for trade; provides information on standards, tariffs, fees, levies and applicable penalties; various authorizations; inspections and verifications, trade agreements details and opportunities.
“Licensing requirement for more than 14 products have been removed,” Minister Shaw said, “to gradually reduce the unnecessary and burdensome red tape associated with regulatory compliance in the trade environment.”
“[It] is also being undertaken within the context of our commitment under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), to reduce the overall time and cost to trade, creating a more agile business and trading environment,” Shaw said.
Shaw said this was made possible, “through the technical committee on legislative review; our ability to respond with current legislation to the demands of new sectors, such as nutraceuticals and cannabis, is a signal of a forward-thinking approach to creating a conducive and business-friendly environment, allowing us to truly compete on a global scale.”
“Jamaica must bring its trade-related laws into the 21st century, in line with prevailing global trends and current needs,” he said.