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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the Government is on a mission to improve Jamaica’s global competitiveness, with growth in more foreign and local direct investments.

Mrs. Simpson Miller said that one of the indicators that potential foreign investors look for when considering investing in a country, is the level of local investments.

She added that it is with this in mind that JAMPRO and other facilitation agencies of the Government have been charged to renew focus on local investments and to support and encourage existing investors to expand and to increase employment.

The Prime Minister was addressing the official opening of the ATL Automotive Volkswagen Modular Showroom and Audi Terminal, in Kingston, on April 19. The facility was constructed at a cost of US$13.5 million, representing the largest investment by any automotive company in Jamaica’s history.

Mrs. Simpson Miller said that while the country needs and welcomes foreign investment, Jamaicans should also ensure that they invest in their homeland. “Nobody else is going to do it if we don’t lead the charge,” she emphasised.

She congratulated Chairman of the Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) Group, Gordon Butch Stewart, for his confidence and continued investment in Jamaica.

Mrs. Simpson Miller noted that innovation and invention are two of the critical factors to the relevance and success of any business in this dynamic, globalized economy, and ATL represents both.

“I know the ATL Group understands the language of excellence very well. The opening of this new showroom is another proof of this. This showroom will undoubtedly inspire competition and raise the overall standard of the automotive product and service being offered to consumers who now have the ability to view and test the latest models and designs of motor vehicles,” she said.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the automotive trade is a critical segment of the Jamaican economy, with extensive inter-connections across other sectors and industries and has had its fair share of challenges. She noted, however, that it has demonstrated a commendable level of resilience, with many brands continuing to perform beyond expectation, and applauded the ATL Group for its efforts in this regard.

ATL Automotive received three awards at the opening, including the Volkswagen Importer of the Year Award in the Latin America and Caribbean region (excluding Brazil), for the year 2012.

Mr. Stewart, for his part, noted that overall, the ATL Group employs approximately 6,000 persons in the country. He expressed confidence in the country and the ability of its people.

“Jamaica has seen its ups and down, but most of the people right here have never wavered in their commitment to Jamaica. The country has never let us down. There are so many countries that at times have been more successful, from an economic point of view, than Jamaica, but at the same time we have maintained a stability way beyond what a lot of people would have expected. Today, we have stability,” Mr. Stewart said.

Also in attendance were: Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga; Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness; Cabinet Ministers; Members of Parliament, and prominent business leaders.

Anglican Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Howard Gregory, officially blessed the building.

CONTACT: ANDREA BRAHAM