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Trinidad and Tobago has been seeking to improve its international competitiveness so as to transform the country into a major trading hub. Accordingly, in 2008 the then Ministry of Trade and Industry started to explore the possibility of the implementation of a computerized system to upgrade and modernize the national trade facilitation infrastructure. In 2009, subsequent to the conduct of site visits and an audit on existing systems, implementation of a Single Electronic Window (SEW) for Trade and Business Facilitation was approved.

The objective of the SEW Project is to improve the competitiveness of T&T by improving the trade and business facilitation processes and providing an enabling environment for stakeholders involved in the trade and business clearance processes to perform import and export transactions electronically (via in a seamless and efficient manner. The SEW is an integrated information technology (IT) trade facilitation platform which serves as a virtual ‘one-stop-shop’ where private stakeholders and approving government agencies can collaborate so as to process the necessary permits and approvals online. Phase I of the SEW includes the online administration of the under-mentioned electronic service modules by various government departments:

1. Cargo Declaration (Customs and Excise Division in the Ministry of Finance);
2. Manifest Declaration (Shipping Agents/Lines, Ports and Customs and Excise Division);
3. Permits and Licences (Ministries of Food Production and Health);
4. Work Permits (Ministry of National Security);
5. Fiscal Incentives (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment);
6. Import Duty Concessions (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment);
7. Company Registration (Ministry of Legal Affairs); and
8. Certificate of Origin (Business Development Company Limited and Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce).

In February 2012, a milestone success for Trinidad and Tobago was attained with the online administration of the permits and licences, work permits, fiscal incentives, import duty concessions, company registration and certificate of origin electronic service modules of the Single Electronic Window (SEW) by various Government departments, as well as the design, development and testing of, and training for the cargo declaration and manifest declaration modules. Subsequently, preparatory works were initiated on Phase II which includes the implementation of four (4) additional modules.

To fully automate its operations and transactions, the Customs and Excise Division is migrating to the ASYCUDA World platform. However, the Customs and Excise Division experienced delays in reconfiguring the operating procedures, thereby delaying integration with the SEW and implementation of the Goods Declaration and Cargo Manifest modules during Phase I. Technical discussions are on-going between the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment and the Customs and Excise Division to facilitate the integration of the SEW Platform and Asycuda World Portal.

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