Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan, says Jamaica recorded some US$39 million in earnings from non-traditional domestic exports, between January and May this year.
This is a 17.4 per cent increase in domestic export earnings over the same period of 2009, and against the background of a 2.3 per cent decline in exports over the first five months of 2010.
Speaking at Tuesday’s (November 2) launch of the Capacity Building for Jamaica Business Support Organizations (BSO) Project, being administered by the National Export Strategy’s (NES) Secretariat, at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston, Mr. Budhan said domestic exports to CARICOM yielded some US$20 million in earnings, accounting for 3.9 per cent of total exports.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan (right), converses with, from left: President, Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JMA), Vitus Evans, and Representative, Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Koenraad Burie, during Tuesday’s (November 2) launch of the Capacity Building for Jamaica Business Support Organizations project, at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston.
However, the Permanent Secretary said Jamaica incurred a trade deficit of US$284.6 million with CARICOM, for the first five months of the year. He pointed out, that this was consequent on the US$307.2 million worth of imports from regional states, representing some 15.3 per cent of Jamaica’s total imports.
While noting that many persons would begin to pronounce “doom and gloom” on these figures, Mr. Budhan contended that what was needed was to look behind the figures and see the opportunities.
“We continue to see positive performance in terms of our non-traditional exports, and we really need to pick up on this trend and move towards greater value addition in that sector, as well as others,” he stated.
He said export uncompetitiveness impedes Jamaica’s economic development, and deprives the country of increased capital accumulation, employment and foreign exchange.
State Minister, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern (centre) being introduced to Representative, Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Koenraad Burie (right), by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Reginald Budhan, following Tuesday’s (November 2) launch of the Capacity Building for Jamaica Business Support Organizations project, at the Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston.
Citing exports as the “lifeblood” of the economy, he asked that every effort be made to ensure increased and sustained benefits are derived from Jamaica’s participation in regional and international trade.
Mr. Budhan stressed the need for emphasis on supporting the capacity building efforts of the exporters, inclusive of the implementation of productivity enhancement programmes and training facilities to upgrade human resource skills.
“Exporters must be encouraged to improve quality, catering to the latest consumer preferences and complying with international standards. Investment in capacity building is a vital pre-condition for improved export competitiveness,” he stated.
Mr. Budhan said that, in an effort to support BSOs across sectors, his Ministry is currently implementing a strategic information system, with help from the Commonwealth Secretariat, to enable the ministry to link the databases of all the relevant BSOs. When fully implemented, this will mean that all BSOs, that are a part of the system, will be able to share information. Their membership will have greater access to information on each other, and will be able to promote their goods and services and identify business opportunities.
“It will give their membership a greater level of functionality. This will enable the Ministry to have a greater fix on the various BSOs in the country, and their respective needs. It will also enable us to organize training and capacity building programmes to support the BSOs,” he said.
Mr. Budhan welcomed the implementation of the capacity building project. The initiative, being spearheaded by PROINVEST, a European Union/African Caribbean and Pacific (EU-ACP) partnership programme, aims to improve the capacity of local business support organizations to effectively support implementation of the National Export Strategy (NES). The project will enable targeted BSOs to complete an analysis of their business environment, and develop appropriate strategies and services to better serve the exporting community. It started in October and will run until February, 2011.