JIS News

The year 2004 was a very good one for the country’s export sector, with earnings from traditional exports increasing by 24.3 per cent from US$800.5 million to US$995.4 million, while income from non-traditional exports grew by US$33.3 million or 22.2 per cent to US$183.3 million.
President of the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA), Dr. Andre Gordon, who made the announcement at the association’s annual general meeting held recently at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston, attributed the increase in earnings to the overall improvement in the trade deficit, which was US$170 million over that of 2003.
Importantly, he said, the country grossed US$43.3 million from agricultural exports, which was 5.5 per cent more than the earnings of last year.
The year was however, not without its challenges, Dr. Gordon said, noting that the major sectors suffered the effects of Hurricane Ivan. “The other major challenge that we all faced this year was Hurricane Ivan, which devastated significant portions of the export sector, particularly agriculture, agro processing, fisheries and some aspects of manufacturing,” he pointed out, adding that for the latter, the losses were not just from physical damage, but also from lost markets in Florida, the Cayman Islands and Grenada, among others.
In response to the crisis, Dr. Gordon said the JEA quickly decided on a strategic approach to include not just repairing the damage but to embark on a programme of rehabilitation to improve competitiveness.
As such, information-gathering sessions were held with stakeholders, while surveys were conducted to assess the damage in the manufacturing/agro processing and agricultural sectors.
He noted also, that the JEA worked with the Jamaica Public Service Company to get members back into production quickly.
As a result of the JEA’s efforts, Dr. Gordon said the association was able to develop a series of programmes, with received international funding.
The United States Agency for International Development funded two projects to rehabilitate the agricultural sector as well as the export sector in general, while the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), through the Office of National Reconstruction, donated to the recovery of the fisheries sector.
“In the year to come, we intend to continue the programmes we have started and begin implementing the new ones even as we focus on building brand Jamaica and increasing the returns to Jamaica from our exports,” Dr. Gordon stated.
For the future, he said the JEA would be working to strengthen services to members, increase growth in the export of services and other areas such as chemicals, craft and giftware, pharmaceuticals; and assisting members to take advantage of business opportunities that may be presented from the staging of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.