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  • Minister of Development in the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr. Paul Robertson, said today that Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean was facing the challenge of positioning themselves in a fiercely competitive environment, driven by liberalized trade and investment regimes.
  • He pointed out that although the Government had taken steps to strengthen legislation or introduce new ones, modernize key trade and business related entities by streamlining processes, and introducing new technologies, "we recognize that there is much more that we need to do in order to establish a modern enabling environment that will impact positively on the bottom line of firms".
  • Minister Robertson was speaking at the opening of the Caribbean Rim Investment Conference under the theme: 'Competitiveness and Investment Promotion', at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

Minister of Development in the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr. Paul Robertson, said today that Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean was facing the challenge of positioning themselves in a fiercely competitive environment, driven by liberalized trade and investment regimes.

He pointed out that although the Government had taken steps to strengthen legislation or introduce new ones, modernize key trade and business related entities by streamlining processes, and introducing new technologies, “we recognize that there is much more that we need to do in order to establish a modern enabling environment that will impact positively on the bottom line of firms”.

Minister Robertson was speaking at the opening of the Caribbean Rim Investment Conference under the theme: ‘Competitiveness and Investment Promotion’, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

He said that the business viability of Jamaica and other territories in the Caribbean could be measured by their performance in investment and competitiveness.

Citing the 2002 World Investment Report, which showed that Jamaica received US$0.7 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) last year, compared to US$600 million in 2001, the Minister said Jamaica and the region had experienced an increase in FDI, whilst globally, FDI had fallen.

Dr. Robertson said that in relation to competitiveness, which required that private sector agents possessed the ability to respond quickly to market signals, the Caribbean had mixed performance, with Jamaica achieving 14th place in the 2001/02 Global Competitiveness Report and Trinidad & Tobago, 29th out of 75 countries. Jamaica’s performance was ahead of Canada’s 21st place and Singapore’s 23rd ranking, in terms of competitiveness.

The Minister cited other gains, such as the liberalization of the telecommunications industry, the prioritization of information and communications technology (ICT) and the country’s success in promoting ICT. Another big plus for Jamaica was the uniqueness of its product designs and good air and seaport infrastructure.

The weakness which Jamaica faced, he said, “is to find the appropriate policies and interventions to implement and improve our investment competitiveness standing and then to pursue consistent improvements over the medium term”.

Dr. Robertson also said that there was a need for the private sector to make fundamental changes, including modernization of their operational and business processes to enhance their competitiveness; prioritization of research and development, utilizing science and technology applications to improve efficiency, productivity and the creation of new products; and co-ordinating corporate support for education, to ensure that the education sector met the needs of the business environment.

The Minister explained that the role of his office was to facilitate the enhancement of Jamaica’s core competitiveness to allow for sustainable wealth creation by foreign and local investors.

He pointed out that the Conference represented an opportunity for Jamaica to engage the international community and its own private sector, in examining ways in which the business environment could be improved for both local and foreign entrepreneurs.

Minister Robertson assured that the output from the conference would form a component of the National Export Competitiveness Strategy, which was being developed.