International trade is essential to the economy of Barbados, whose imports totaled more than 45 percent of the country’s GDP in 2015. However, Barbados’ spot in the Global Competitiveness Index had fallen in recent years, due, in part, to inefficiencies in government processes.

The country’s paper-based system for processing imports led to long applications and processing times, duplication and human error.  And, this resulted in a slower flow of goods into the country.  To address and improve the country’s business competitiveness, the government of Barbados created the Barbados Competitiveness Programme in 2010, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank.

One of the business solutions funded by the Barbados Competitiveness Programme was the development and implementation of an Electronic Single Window. The ESW is a single online interface for the exchange of trade-related documents between the trading community and relevant government agencies, eliminating the paper-based system and its associated problems.

The government of Barbados hired Bixal to create a Trade Document Management System as part of the ESW for the Border Control agencies. Bixal’s TDMS project for Barbados included designing integrated database architecture to provide 22 participating government agencies and traders with a paperless electronic system.  This system processes licenses, permits, certificates and other documents used in processing imports and exports.

First, Bixal mapped the business processes of the 22 agencies.  The company also reviewed 60 workflows and more than 100 paper forms and documents that were converted into electronic documents, then compatible with the new system.  Key business and technical requirements were gathered to build the ESW and integrate the TDMS with other key ESW components, including a harmonized commodity classification system.

The reengineering of business processes related to imports, exports and the transit of goods was instrumental to streamlining the issuance of trade-related licenses, permits, certificates and other documents – for both the pre- and post-arrival of commodities in Barbados.  As a result of these efforts, importers now seamlessly work from a single web-based user interface. Using this system, they now complete forms and steps quickly and easily. This process once required visits to numerous agencies and the completion of an assortment of paper forms. Inspectors and border patrol officers also can now use mobile devices to perform their duties more efficiently.

Usability and navigation played a central role in Bixal’s design of the TDMS. The TDMS uses a modern, fresh and simple design with a focus on information architecture and user experience. The objective was to deploy a solution that is aesthetically pleasing, has an intuitive navigation structure, and works well across all modern web browsers and mobile devices. The TDMS was built using open sources Angular.js, and JSON. These platforms provide users with an industry-recognized open-source solution that is cost effective, flexible, scalable and secure. Security of all systems and data was a priority in the development, deployment, and management of this project. The TDMS is hosted in a secure cloud-based hosting solution provided by the government of Barbados for the ESW.

Bixal also was responsible for the acquisition of IT infrastructure, including the purchase of tablets, mobile devices for border patrol officers, and electronic kiosks for importers and brokers who choose to use government facilities to do their tasks.  

Barbados is the second country in the Caribbean and one of only two countries smaller than 300 square miles to employ an ESW system. This system will ultimately make Barbados more successful in trading across borders in a sustainable, accessible way. The system improves the movement of goods, allowing transacting parties to fulfill their obligations online from anywhere in the world, while promoting the development of exports, and increasing private investment in Barbados. Bixal is proud to have played a part in supporting new technologies that will have a widespread impact on business and trade in Barbados.