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May 28, 2018

Customs Aims for Greater Efficiency

How long does it take to clear goods from the point arrival to release? That’s what the Customs and Excise Department is studying at a week-long workshop in the Belize City. Here in country for the event are representatives from the World Customs Organization who are assisting the department to become more efficient through what is called the Time Release programme. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The shipments of goods overseas, particularly those carried as freight, are cleared at any harbor by customs officials.  Not only is the Customs and Excise Department responsible for applying necessary duties on these items, the agency is similarly tasked with allowing the delivery and departure of goods from various points of entry.  One of the methods used for the review of clearance procedures is to measure the average time taken between the arrival of the goods and their release.  This system is known as time release.


Oluima Da Silva

Oluima Da Silva, World Customs Organization

“Belize’s customs administration, as part of the reform and modernization programme, has requested technical assistance through the WCO to actually support the Belize customs to conduct a Time Release Study.  So we have been supporting a lot of countries in these areas, in this particular area.  So Belize will also have the opportunity.  The Time Release Study is an internationally recognized tool and we call it an internationally recognized tool because it’s the only tool referred to in the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement as a key tool to measure the time with regards to the movement of cargo between borders.”


This facilitates customs to identify both the problem areas, as well as potential corrective actions to increase their efficiency.


Estella Leslie

Estella Leslie, Deputy Comptroller of Customs

“This study is not only for customs, we are a part of the supply chain for goods, but we have a lot of government agencies and other people that are involved in the clearance.  So this week, we will be sitting in here.  Like the comptroller mentioned about doing business at the port, we will be sitting in here and we will be learning how to conduct a Time Release Study to know exactly where the bottlenecks are in the release process from the [time the] goods come in at the port, until it is cleared, so that we can fill up those gaps and release the goods in a timely manner, because time is money for our importers and our economy.”


Globalization has led to a sudden and marked increase in cross-border trading.  Consequently, there has been an equally important emphasis on trade and regulatory processes carried out at the border to ensure that they are optimized and that the time needed for trade-related procedures is minimized where suitable.


Oluima Da Silva

“Belize intends to carry out a Time Release Study as a part of the commitment towards the implementation of a trade facilitation agreement and the World Customs Organization [WCO] is very open and very positive and very thankful as well to the Belize customs administration and to the [Government of Belize] to actually request us to support Belize in this important journey.”


The length of time during which customs and other border agencies apply these regulations, thereby bringing to a standstill the movement of goods, has become critical to international traders and their customers.


Estella Leslie

“Doing business with port helps us in that if we are ranked good we get a lot of foreign direct investment and this can boost our economy.  Belize ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement in 2015.  This agreement came into force in 2017.  With that Trade Facilitation Agreement there are several articles and one of the articles, Article Seven, deals with the release of goods.  Under that article, we must conduct Time Release Studies and so this is a part of our commitment to the Trade Facilitation Agreement.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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