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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, Reginald Budhan, has identified several areas, which he says have the potential to boost the island’s export capacity, and are worth pursuing.
Mr. Budhan, who was the guest speaker at a symposium hosted by the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Department of Economics at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, today (Feb. 6), held under the theme: ‘The Diversification of CAROCIM Exports: Opportunities & Challenges’, noted that these areas, which are capable of generating high value/low volume products, are gaining prominence as the traditional areas of export have been “unresponsive” over the years. As such, new options are being explored.
One such area, the Permanent Secretary informed, is the fashion industry, with local brands such as Cooyah, Yea Mon, and the Usain Bolt Line, among the prominent brands figuring in this regard.
“We hope that by branding, even though the price may be higher, consumers may be willing to pay more,” he said, adding that further development of swimwear, leisure wear, and sports wear, are being pursued.
Advanced development of another area, indigenous craft and souvenir items, such as broaches, earrings, and semi precious stones, for the tourism industry, could provide opportunities for stakeholders, Mr. Budhan offered.
The significant emphasis, which the Permanent Secretary said is being placed on promoting healthy lifestyles, provides an opportunity for the development of products tailored for enhancing wellness. “Products such as spa products, body creams, body lotions, natural herbs and so on, those are the things that we are looking at,” he outlined.
Mr. Budhan pointed out that enhanced development of indigenous foods is vital. This as processed local foods such as ackee, spices and sauces, tubers, fruits, and vegetables, are among the most sought after products in several overseas markets. “It is these marginal areas which have offered some potential,” he added.
The Diaspora, Mr. Budhan further noted, can help to create demand, “and promote local foods abroad, so that we can find some market there”, and suggested that Jamaican foods be served in hotels operating locally.
“When I go to another country, I want to see and taste their local food, and I have a feeling that people feel the same when they come here.. they want something local. I think our hotels, not only in Jamaica, but in other Caribbean islands.need to focus more on local foods,” he contended.
Mr. Budhan noted that the promotion of local food is necessary if the interest of visitors is to be piqued accordingly, adding that “[it] is a way of creating permanent demand.”
Other areas, which he suggested for exploration, include: the identification of unique services, such as music and entertainment, and consultancies, arguing that traditional export products, such as coconut, sugar, banana, and cocoa, may not be able to generate sufficient foreign exchange to maintain the dollar’s stability, and create investment opportunities in the process.