Kingston Jamaica June 21: The United States
and Jamaica signed an agreement which will allow U.S. customs officers to be stationed in Jamaica to pre-clear
cargo destined for America, which will ultimately result in savings for local exporters.
The Washington accord was hailed by Transport Minister Robert Pickersgill as important for the island, which has emerged
as one of the region's fastest growing trans-shipment ports, where a fast turnaround time is good for business.
"... Benefits would be derived from having Jamaican exports pre-cleared and entering the U.S. as domestic cargo because
of the increasing volume of trade between Jamaican seaports and U.S. seaports," said Mr. Pickersgill, who signed the agreement
on behalf of the Government. The chairman of the Port of Authority of Jamaica, Noel Hylton, also initialled the pact.
This arrangement will also be beneficial to local exporters who have in the past complained that their perishable goods
sometimes spoil at American ports while awaiting inspection.
The agreement falls under Washington's Container Security Initiative Programme and highlights America's apparent confidence
in Jamaica's efforts at enhancing security at its ports since the U.S. began taking keen interest in such matters, especially
in the post-9/11 period.
It was not immediately clear when, or how many, U.S. customs officers will be stationed in Jamaica under the programme,
starting on a pilot basis. But while here, they will operate under Jamaican rules.
"The American customs officers will work in accordance with Jamaica Customs guidelines and under the authority and administrative
supervision of the ambassador of the United States in Jamaica," explained a statement from the Port Authority.
"They will cooperate with Jamaica Customs and the Port Authority to identify, screen, and facilitate the sealing of high-risk
cargo containers through the use of inspection equipment that meet the standards promulgated by the World Customs Organi-sation,"