The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is leading an initiative that will result in the implementation of international standards across ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the public sector.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, said this will begin with his Ministry and involve the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) Limited, which has been leading Jamaica’s adherence to market standards globally.
He was addressing the opening day of a two-day conference on arbitration at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies in Mona on June 28.
Mr. Shaw said the initiative is part of the Government’s commitment to establishing a standards-led economy, as well as a personal conviction that the greater the compliance to internationally recognised standards, the lesser the possibility of misunderstandings and disputes.
He argued that operating in a standards-led environment will enable Jamaica to remain competitive, as failure to comply with certain international standards can constitute a technical barrier to trade.
“Government’s primary role, therefore, is to create the enabling and facilitating environment to support increased compliance, in particular with international quality standards and regulations,” the Minister said.
“This is critical to ensuring that our products and services are compliant with and meet international market requirements, in order to avoid disputes,” Mr. Shaw added.
The conference, which is being held during Arbitration Week 2018, is hosted by the Jamaica International Arbitration Centre (JAIAC) Limited under the theme ‘Arbitration on the Move: Framework, Industries and Economic Development’.
Arbitration is a form of resolution of civil and commercial disputes outside the courts and the settling of local and international commercial disputes.
Mr. Shaw is urging regional leaders to aim for a modernised and harmonised arbitration regime to “replace some of what currently exist”.
“As the world becomes more globalised, we in the Caribbean cannot afford to be left behind. We have to move with alacrity to fully embrace the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration and adopt its rules,” he said.
Jamaica in 2017, passed into law an Arbitration Act to provide an effective non-judicial mechanism for settling disputes between contracting parties.
The 2017 Act repeals and replaces the one from the 1900s and seeks to facilitate domestic and international trade and commerce by encouraging the use of arbitration as a method of resolving disputes.
Mr. Shaw indicated that since being passed, the Act now sets the basis for which Jamaica “can thrive to become a significant world player in international arbitration”.
The Minister congratulated JAIAC for its work in promoting, promulgating, developing and practising arbitration in Jamaica.
President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, in her remarks, said an opportunity exists for Jamaica to become a regional hub and centre of excellence for arbitration.
She noted that in the Doing Business Report of 2018, one of the lagging indicators identified for Jamaica is the enforcement of contracts for which arbitration is critical for resolving, “as it gives confidence that there are opportunities for amicable settlement of disputes”.
Ms. Edwards also pointed to the employment opportunities that will exist in arbitration, which will become available to law graduates out of university.
Secretary General of the JAIAC, Dr. Christopher Malcolm, for his part, said a collective effort exists in the region to view arbitration not just as the settling of disputes, but, importantly, as the management of disputes as a significant tool for economic development.
JAIAC hopes this landmark event will support the positioning of Jamaica as a competitive location for commercial arbitration and mediation.
During the two days, panel discussions will examine the status of arbitration in the Caribbean region and how it has been impacted by the international framework with the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards, 1958 at the core, to name a few.