Local exporters are being urged to ensure that overseas sales representatives are legitimate, before they contract them to market their products abroad.
The advice came from JAMPRO’s Western Regional Manager, Conrad Robinson, as he addressed a technical workshop for operators of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), held on Wednesday, March 6, at the Pelican Grill in Montego Bay.
He said that feedback from exporters indicate that a major challenge has to do with engaging these sales agents or consignees.
While not providing details of the problems being encountered, Mr. Robinson advised the exporters to “protect themselves when they are sending goods abroad”.
“We encourage that, before you contract a consignee, you should check local chambers of commerce in the cities that these consignees operate just to make sure that the people that you are sending your products to are people, who are legitimate and registered people,” he stated.
He pledged that JAMPRO “will do all that it can do to assist”.
Mr. Robinson further encouraged the exporters to get their operations certified to international standards, stating that “certification is absolutely important if you are going to be able to have access to certain markets.”
In stressing the importance of certification, Sales and Marketing Officer with the National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ), Marcia Cohen, said that not only does it enable market access, but indicates that products are of a high standard.
“It gives confidence to the consumers, who use the products, and the trading partners. When you are shipping your goods to overseas markets, there is this international acceptance, the International Standardization Organization (ISO) 9001 and ISO 1400, they are common language in trade today,” she stated.
The forum, held under the theme: ‘Certification for Agro-Products’, included presentations from the Bureau of Standards, Trade Board, Jamaica Customs, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
It was organised by JAMPRO under the FINPYME ExportPlus Programme, which is an initiative of the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) in collaboration with its parent organisation, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The programme, which is in line with the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Aid-For-Trade Initiative, seeks to improve the ability of SMEs to access export markets.
It involves working with SMEs in strategic sectors to improve their competitiveness in the global market. The four major objectives are: to build export readiness of SMEs; improve market access for SMEs; increase performance and exports of SMEs; and provide export development support and assistance. The programme was launched in Kingston in October 2012.
Mr. Robinson said some 10 workshops are planned, which will address various issues relating to exporting and “provide for our exporters, information that we believe will help them to improve the export product from Jamaica.”