New Customs Act (2019) tabled – aimed at promoting and supporting Jamaica’s socio-economic development
Arising from a decision of Cabinet in 2017, the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) was tasked with the responsibility to develop a new legislative framework which would further promote business opportunities for Jamaica, particularly in the areas of shipping, logistics and international trade. Following several stakeholder consultations, the Agency, along with its partners, completed a significant leg of the process, which resulted in the new Act being tabled in Parliament in June 2019.
The JCA however, reminds all its stakeholders that the current Act (1941) remains in effect (law) until the new Customs Act (2019) goes through the required parliamentary processes, and is passed and gazetted.
The new Act has retained some of the substantive provisions of its predecessor, even as it incorporates several new provisions geared towards trade facilitation and international best practices. Additionally, the area of risk-based compliance and selectivity in Customs processing or treatment has also been included.
Provisions have also been crafted with respect to advance rulings, inward and outward processing, and an expansion of commercial opportunities for stakeholders with respect to the warehousing regimes, among other provisions that would be indicative of Jamaica as a logistics and commercial hub. Importantly, the language of the new Act has been simplified and modernised to facilitate ease of understanding, by the general public.
Benefits of the New Legislation:
- Promote socio-economic development and assist with the creation of the conditions for economic growth.
- Facilitate the efficient processing of Customs-related transactions.
- Aid in protecting local businesses and the international supply chain from unfair international trading practices, smuggling of goods, under-invoicing, fraud and intellectual property rights infringement.
- Encourage voluntary compliance with Customs laws and procedures.
- Further support the implementation of ASYCUDA World.
- Strengthen the enforcement powers of the Commissioner of Customs.
- Strengthen the ability of the JCA to effectively protect Jamaica’s borders.
- Assist the JCA in facilitating the processing of increased volumes of trade in an increasingly complex international trading environment.
- Encourage new business models and requirements, including e-commerce.
Modern Terminology and Ease of Use
The new terms and definitions in the Customs Act are consistent with the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) which has been adopted by several Customs administrations worldwide. The use of internationally accepted terms and definitions will facilitate Jamaica's interaction with the international trading community and will assist carriers, agents and all the industry professionals who operate in the global context.
Wide Range of Security
There is an overarching provision in the Act which deals with security. The JCA will facilitate a broader range, of types of security. Further, security may be specific, that is, relating to a specific consignment of goods; or general, that is, relating to any class/kind/category of goods during a specified or indefinite period.
Fluidity of Procedures
Express provisions are made for different Customs procedures in keeping with a logistics-focused economy. For example, the new legislative framework will facilitate the introduction of Customs processing and procedures, such as inward and outward processing. Such processing procedures will enable goods to be imported for the specific purpose of under-going processing in Jamaica on condition that the products that result from the processing will be exported. In addition, goods may be seamlessly moved from one Customs procedure to another, once all Customs requirements are satisfied.
Clarification of the Transit and Transshipment Procedures
The Act seeks to clarify the regimes relating to transit and transshipment to promote improved alignment with ASYCUDA World and international best practice.
Advance Arrival Reports
The Agency has sought to revise the provisions concerning advance reports to be provided by carriers engaged in short haul flights and voyages as opposed to long haul flights and voyages. The time frames in the new Customs Act will conform to the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards. These time frames will facilitate further compliance by shipping agents.
The Jamaica Customs Agency takes this opportunity to thank all its partners and stakeholders for the roles they played in coining the new Customs Act (2019), as together we work towards achieving the goals of (Vision 2030) Jamaica’s National Development Plan, which seeks to make Jamaica “the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.”