KINGSTON — Minister of State for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern, says there is a great opportunity for the Diaspora to help strengthen brand Jamaica by investing in high growth sectors, while promoting the country’s authentic products abroad.
“There is no question that brand Jamaica is strong; we must now challenge ourselves to see how, in our everyday lives, we can capitalise and build on this,” he urged.
The State Minister, who was addressing a session on ‘Trade and Investment’, at the Jamaican Diaspora Convention in Ocho Rios, St. Ann on June 17, said that information technology offers vast potential, especially in areas of software development, call centre operations, consultancy and design activities.
He informed that the Government has introduced a wide range of reform measures to support industries and attract business in those areas.
Mr. Stern also cited opportunities in agriculture, noting that the sector offers “much potential for Jamaica’s future prosperity.” He said that in three years, the sector has been transformed to the point where there are huge surpluses. “We are producing in large amounts and linkages are being created with hotels,” he added.
Turning to manufacturing, Mr. Stern told the overseas nationals that the sector is one of the largest job producing areas, contributing 8.1 per cent to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010, and boasting an array of enterprises in agro-processing, leather craft, wines and spirits, fashion, light assembly, neutraceuticals, wood furniture, and non- alcoholic beverages.
He informed that the development of the Caymanas Economic Zone in St. Catherine will provide even more opportunities for investment in manufacturing, through the creation of hundreds of businesses.
Tourism, he noted further, is ripe for investment in areas such as spas and retirement villages. The sector, he said, generated earnings of US$1.9 billion in 2010. He also mentioned prospects in the creative industries, in film, music, entertainment and sports.
The State Minister said that the Government is committed to removing impediments and bureaucracies to support business development, citing online payment services and the establishment of a one-stop shop at the airport to facilitate processing and clearance of goods.
In addition to investing in industries, Mr. Stern urged overseas nationals to help support brand Jamaica by getting authentic local products into the supermarkets in the countries in which they reside. “We would like to sign agreements to get them on the shelves,” he emphasised.
Mr. Stern also encouraged them to protect the country’s niche products and intellectual property rights by contacting the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), “when you see a product that is not Jamaican, but claiming to be."
“We need you to be ambassadors for the Jamaican brand. Promote brand Jamaica to your friends, co-workers and neighbours. Introduce them to the food, the music, the culture – tell them where they can go to buy Jamaican,” he urged
By TRACEY THOMPSON, JIS Editor