JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Exporters urged to invest in continuously upgrading their operations, as well as accessing various legislative and policy provisions
  • Several pieces of legislation have been advanced to support an enabling business environment
  • Chief among these is the National Export Strategy (NES)

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, is urging exporters to invest in continuously upgrading their operations, as well as accessing various legislative and policy provisions being piloted by the Government in order to ensure that their outputs are deemed export-ready.

Speaking at Tuesday’s (September 3) launch of the Jamaica Exporters Association’s (JEA) CARICOM market access website, at the JEA’s Winchester Road offices in Kingston, Mr. Hylton contended that while the government facilitates the environment for business, exporters must determine their state of readiness.

“The role and goal of government is to ensure that the most enabling business environment is in place by providing the most appropriate legal and policy framework to support businesses. The export community must (however) be introspective and ask the question- ‘are we ready to compete on the global platform?’ – and if not, ‘how do we propose to re-tool and re-organize with the end game of increased competitiveness and integration into the global economy?’. In other words, ‘how do we make ourselves more export-ready?’” he said.

The Minister cited several pieces of legislation, which have been advanced to support an enabling business environment.

Chief among these is the National Export Strategy (NES), the review of which he said the Ministry is “advancing”, through its agency, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).

He said “an early exchange” with the JEA on a process is anticipated, arguing that it is long overdue.

Major initiatives under the NES, which Mr. Hylton said are geared towards capacity building for exporters, include the Inter-American Investment Corporation’s the FINPYME Export Plus Programme, coordinated by JAMPRO in collaboration with the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) and JEA.

“The Export Plus programme is geared towards improving access to export markets for small and medium size enterprises, and to develop trade related skills and infrastructure, all in conjunction with the World Trade Organization’s Aid-for-Trade goals. This is done through the offering of technical assistance in areas such as certification, operations and management, geared towards improving international competitiveness in the global export sector,” he explained.

The Minister pointed out that Jamaica is among a select number of countries in which the FINPYME Programme has been established, and is the only one, to date, that has implemented the undertaking’s six initiatives.

Another initiative, he informed, is the Enterprise Development Programme, also called export-max. This focuses on developing of a cluster of export-ready clients, facilitating market opportunities, and increased export earnings.

“The first phase of the programme assisted 15 companies, and the second phase has earmarked some $54.9 million for technical assistance to an additional 10 companies,” he stated.

Mr. Hylton also cited the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), which he chairs, as another significant initiative, noting that it facilitates companies conducting businesses easily, and trading across borders.

He pointed out that the Council has developed a “comprehensive” reform agenda, which outlines key initiatives to be implemented by 2015. This is in order to increase the ease of doing business in and with Jamaica and, ultimately, shoring up the country’s ranking in key benchmarking reports such as the World Bank’s Doing Business Report.

He asserted, however, that the reforms “must go beyond the report”, to address fundamental issues affecting Jamaica’s businesses, the business environment, and their readiness to support the business community.

“There are too many areas in which our exporters find themselves severely handicapped in their attempt to penetrate and to maintain an advantageous presence in overseas markets. (In addition to) operating at global standards…. we must also strengthen our capacity-building programmes, fix the business environment, and improve market access,” he contended.

The Minister also argued that removing bureaucratic impediments and improving the business environment remains a key focus of the Council, “which constantly seeks to implement reforms to foster a more investor and export-friendly business environment to support the growth agenda.”

The CARICOM market access website is the result of a Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ)/JEA workshop, done in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank, which represents an attempt to provide exporters with accurate information on the country’s export process, and guidelines foe exporting within CARICOM.