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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Local exporters now have greater access to information on existing and potential markets
  • JEA has established the CARICOM market access website
  • The organisation anticipates the website also being used by the wider public

Local exporters now have greater access to information on existing and potential markets within the Caribbean, to better enable them to fulfill clients’ demands and streamline their operations.

This, as the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA) has established the CARICOM market access website.

The recently launched website is a collaborative endeavour with the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), and is financed through the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund) under a US$15 million funding provision from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).

The website provides data on tariff and non-tariff measures, including information on customs tariff and clearance fees, as well as customs procedures and documentation.

It also outlines information on additional duties and taxes, measures related to the importation of services, and lists contact details for the relevant authorities dealing with import/export procedures for each CARICOM member state.

Speaking at the official launch at the JEA’s Winchester Road offices in Kingston, Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, welcomed the facility, arguing that the data speaks highly of the content quality, adding that this should greatly determine the website’s effectiveness.

“It’s not sufficient to have a mass of data. It is very critical that the data be organised in such a way that it is not only user-friendly, but when used, is likely to yield the desired outcomes. I have reason to believe that the database, based on what I have been told, should be a very exciting and interesting tool,” he said.

Mr. Hylton contended that the market access web portal is “critical” to developing Jamaica’s export sector and should go a far way in preventing stakeholders from committing “costly mistakes” by empowering them with appropriate information.

“The web site will allow business leaders to make prudent decisions through the provision of essential information, which must be factored into those decisions…in the same way government needs to make informed decisions,” he argued.

The Minister commended the JEA/PSOJ collaboration, noting that it is indicative of the organisations’ understanding of the need for partnership to support a sector, which is critical to medium and long-term economic growth.

He added that, more importantly, the organisations have demonstrated a clear understanding of the government’s export-led growth strategy “and are playing their role(s) in facilitating the export-led growth agenda.”

“This…launch…signifies a step in the right direction and one which will redound to significant levels of success to the Jamaican exporters and, ultimately, the Jamaican economy,” the Minister reasoned.

While noting that the website is a “work in progress” with information currently only available on CARICOM countries, Mr. Hylton said the content is expected to be expanded in the future to include information on other countries, “as Jamaican exporters seek to penetrate and cement their positions on global platforms.”

He expressed optimism that “if we put our shoulders to the wheel, embrace global best practices and high standards, and make all our businesses export-ready, Jamaica will be able to transform its economy and maintain dominance on many global platforms.”

In her remarks, former JEA President, Marjory Kennedy, underscored the need for local firms to have information that will guide their market access strategies to increase trade within CARICOM.

She pointed out that the JEA is “continually striving” to achieve its mandate of increasing Jamaica’s export earnings, and recognises that the website can complement the various strategies being pursued to promote Jamaican goods and services “so that we can regain a greater share of the CARICOM market.”

“This can contribute to the reversal of the trade imbalance between Jamaica and CARICOM. The disparity on trade with CARICOM is approximately 10 to one and it is therefore critical that we maximize every opportunity to reduce this trade imbalance,” she argued.

As such, Mrs. Kennedy said the JEA will integrate the website into its information hub to ensure members have access to information that will support their export initiatives.

She said the JEA also anticipates a continuation of the collaboration with the PSOJ and CDB, to ensure that the website is fully developed to become an “invaluable tool for Jamaican exporters, manufacturers and service providers.”

PSOJ President, Christopher Zacca, said the organisation anticipates the website also being used by the wider public “as a tool to facilitate trade within the region.”

The CDB’s CARTFund Consultant, June Alleyene Griffin, stressed that the website’s establishment “is only the start”, and urged that follow-up supporting activities be undertaken by stakeholders.

“We need to have the users, the private sector, use the information, indicate where there are gaps, so that the portal and the information provided can be strengthened and we can really see some serious results,” she urged.