State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, said the Ministry is working to address trade constraints within the region, including the trade imbalance between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
“We are working closely with CARICOM on the range of trade and investment issues, including access to markets, the movement of people, and so on,” she stated.
Mrs. Ffolks Abrahams was speaking on June 27, at the opening of the second annual Junior Achievement Company of Entrepreneurs (JACE) Conference, held at the Rex Nettleford Hall, University of the West Indies, Mona.
She informed that the Ministry will also be looking at trade matters outside of CARICOM, including collaborating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade on free trade discussions with Canada and other countries such as the Dominican Republic.
“The work of the Ministry will also continue in the area of exploring the export of goods to Europe under the European Partnership Agreement (EPA),” Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams said.
The State Minister stated that the Government, through the National Export Strategy (NES), will continue to set aframework for ensuring that trade and investment contribute to the rebuilding and growth of the economy.
“We urge Jamaican businesses to seize the export opportunities that we have as we seek to benefit from an open trading system and a stable Jamaican economy, with the potential to create more growth, jobs, and opportunities for all Jamaicans,” Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams said.
Turning to other matters, the State Minister pointed to the need for increased focus to be placed on the services sector, based on its tremendous growth potential.
She noted that services represent a significant aspect of global trade, and the ability of the sector to induce growth in developing countries “is huge, but perhaps underutilised".
She argued that while services power 70 per cent of the economy of developed countries, and create more than half of all jobs, the sector’s contribution to developing countries, while improving, is substantially lower.
“Yet, it has been observed that when developing countries grow, they usually grow through services. This augurs well for countries such as ours, which have first class infrastructure and an increasingly favourable environment for services,” she stated.
More than 80 young people from over 30 schools and community-based organisations across the island will participate in the five-day conference, organised by Junior Achievement of Jamaica.
They were selected from a batch of 750 students, who were involved in a six-month experiential learning experience in running their own small businesses, where they developed and sold products ranging from craft materials to professional services.
Over the five days, they will be involved in a series of workshops, seminars, exhibits and competitions, aimed at increasing their knowledge of and skills in entrepreneurship.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Scotia BankJamaica, Bruce Bowen, who is also Executive Chairman of Junior Achievement Jamaica, said the organisation allows for personal growth and “allows you to see the connection between effort and planning and what we do, the outcomes and results."
“That is critical not just in business but in all areas of society. It also helps with self-confidence because… the ability to operate in a company… helps build that self confidence and leadership skills,” Mr. Bowen said.
Junior Achievement Jamaica is a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide. The Junior Achievement programmes help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs, which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace.
Thousands of students have been reached under the programme since its introduction in Jamaica in 2008.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter