Costa Rica: Reduced Waiting time at Peñas Blancas

Exporters and Government discussed improvements in customs procedures in order to reduce processing times at the border.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Export managers and managers of the 20 companies in charge of 80% of export formalities at the border in Peñas Blancas met this morning with the Minister of Foreign Trade, Anabel Gonzalez, Deputy Minister Fernando Ocampo, Deputy Minister of Finance Jenny Phillips, the Director General of Customs, Desiderio Soto and the manager of the Single Window for Foreign Trade, Marvin Salas to discuss improvements in customs proceedings and reducing processing times at the border.

Authorities called upon businessmen to, instead of doing their export paperwork at the border, to do the process at other customs facilities, using the Peñas Blancas Customs office only if necessary. This would significantly accelerate border crossing through a fast lane which companies can use if they have executed the paperwork previously.

As part of efforts to streamline export procedures, the Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER) proposed to train company personnel in handling of the TICA IT system (Information Technology for Customs Control) and the use of technical notes. The General Customs Department has agreed to answer specific questions to exporters on the subject. Additionally, both institutions will be meeting head to head with main exporters in order to identify areas to improve and expedite service.

During the meeting businessmen presented particular problems experienced in the export process. Solutions to those problems will be explored with other agencies involved such as the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Transportation.

Following the meeting, exporters and government representatives agreed to meet in June in order to review progress in speeding passage through Peñas Blancas.

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From a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica :

This morning (yesterday) PROCOMER launched the beta version of Single Window for Foreign Trade (VUCE) 2.0 a project that will revolutionize the export sector and domestic importer, offering an interoperable platform ( with approvals in minutes) between the 16 state institutions state that are involved in foreign trade procedures.

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A single processing desk will be opened for foreign trade in order to speed up control formalities for land carriers.

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The Executive Directorate of Revenue (DEI), with the support of the Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic of Honduras and the technical support of International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank (WB), will start running a Single Foreign Trade Desk (known as VUCEH by its initials in Spanish), to streamline controls for land carriers, reducing costs and contributing to trade facilitation.

Peñas Blancas Improvement Plan Starts

August 2011

The action plan is designed to address the state of emergency that has been declared on the border between Costa Rica and Panama.

A press release from the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Trade states:

“The five month action plan will involve increasing the number of traffic officers, implementing an electronic collection system for fumigation charges, extending opening hours until midnight, contracting a design for the primary zone, implementing a system of international transit of goods, widening the highway to four lanes, and starting the remodeling of the immigration building. ‘Technological tools exist today that allow us to complete formalities in advance. To promote use of these, and to make the Peñas Blancas border crossing a place to pass through and not to do paperwork, we will establish before the primary zone a checkpoint that will to give priority to exporters who arrive with their paperwork already processed’, said Vice Minister, Fernando Ocampo.

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