President of the Jamaica Exporters' Association (JEA), Vitus Evans, is reporting a 10 per cent increase in total domestic exports for January to March 2012 over the same period last year.
Of total export earnings of US$446.2 million for the period, US$434.2 million came from total domestic exports, with 46.89 per cent attributed to non-traditional exports. The remaining US$12 million came from re-exports.
Mr. Evans, who was addressing a breakfast forum on July 26 at the JEA headquarters in St. Andrew under the theme: ‘Jamaica’s Energy Outlook’, said that investment in export development can lead to real growth in the economy through increased employment, new business development and integrated linkages.
"However, we must ensure that our exports are competitive… and a positive energy outlook is essential to this effort… for, whilst Brand Jamaica remains strong, our cost of production must however be in line with our competitors,” he stated.
In the meantime, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell, who gave the keynote address at the function, reiterated the government’s commitment to diversifying the local energy market in an effort to increase production in all sectors.
"We can clearly identify the issue of energy as a most critical factor that has inhibited our growth and development as a country,” he said.
He said he is mindful of his “tremendous responsibility” as Minister “to enable us to remove the shackles and to emerge with a dynamic energy scenario that will provoke and inspire all of us to produce and to grow”.
Mr. Paulwell noted that competition in the market is also a critical factor for the reduction in energy prices, which will, in turn, redound to greater benefits for manufacturers. “For me, competition works every time,” he stated. “We have to get more competition on the energy side.”
He reiterated his commitment to breaking the monopoly that currently exists in the local energy market. “(Companies) must be forced to become as efficient as they possibly can so that people don’t steal their customers. That is how this market has to work and we have to get our players to recognise that and to move with the time,” he said.