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  • Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, has emphasized that foreign trade must be integrated into national development strategies.
  • "This requires focusing our efforts on creating the environment for increasing productivity and competitiveness, so that we can meaningfully engage in international trade and attract the right mix of investment to boost commercial activity," the Minister said.
  • "The National Development Strategy (Vision 2030) therefore links our foreign trade policy, indeed, our foreign policy, and export strategy together with our development policies targeting the productive sectors. If we cannot attract reliable domestic, regional and foreign investment; cannot consistently produce high quality goods and services; and cannot convince consumers in the markets of trading partners to purchase our goods and services, we will find ourselves increasingly marginalized," he added.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, has emphasized that foreign trade must be integrated into national development strategies.

“This requires focusing our efforts on creating the environment for increasing productivity and competitiveness, so that we can meaningfully engage in international trade and attract the right mix of investment to boost commercial activity,” the Minister said.

“The National Development Strategy (Vision 2030) therefore links our foreign trade policy, indeed, our foreign policy, and export strategy together with our development policies targeting the productive sectors. If we cannot attract reliable domestic, regional and foreign investment; cannot consistently produce high quality goods and services; and cannot convince consumers in the markets of trading partners to purchase our goods and services, we will find ourselves increasingly marginalized,” he added.

The Minister was making his presentation in the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 25.

Dr. Baugh said that a review of the country’s trade data revealed that in 2007, Jamaica imported approximately US$6.5 billion worth of goods, the major portion of this coming from the USA, the European Union (EU), Canada, China, Japan and CARICOM. He said exports only yielded US$2.2 billion, comprising mainly alumina, resulting in a deficit of US$4.3 billion.

He said that in this equation, imports have been increasing at a phenomenal rate, and this, among other things, has contributed to the undermining of domestic production.

“The recent crisis occasioned by the spiralling global food prices has brought this into sharp focus. In addition, despite trade preferences, Jamaica has not developed robust and diverse manufacturing and agricultural sectors. We now have to revisit our approach towards the growth and development of these sectors,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Baugh said that the service sector currently contributes two-thirds of the country’s Gross Domestic Product or GDP with greater potential for further growth. Despite this, he said, the sector is faced with a number of challenges, one of which is the concentration in tourism, leaving us vulnerable to potential external shocks.

“We have to develop into other service activities such as maritime transport, cultural and entertainment services, financial services and information and communications technology (ICT) based services,” he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister added that the development of the trade capacity also includes the development of human resources, “if we are to benefit fully from the opportunities presented by trade agreements which we have negotiated.”

He explained that there is a disconnection between the available skills and the skills which are utilized in the economy, with one hand seeing investors complaining about the absence of skills and on the other, university graduates failing to find work.

“We need to engage our skilled personnel in areas of innovation; we need to create linkages with overseas firms to ensure that technology transfer is taking place. We need to ensure that we strengthen and broaden our vocational training because these skills are in high demand,” the Minister said.

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