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The Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) is looking to EXPO Jamaica 2010 to help to reinvigorate the manufacturing and export sectors amid a decline in external demand for Jamaican goods.
The expo, to be held at the National Arena in Kingston, from June 17 to 20, will bring together Jamaican manufacturers and international buyers.
Speaking at the launch on March 16 at the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association’s (JMA) office in downtown Kingston, President of the JEA, Vitus Evans encouraged members of the Association to view the expo as a chance to “showcase the strength of Brand Jamaica”.
“Expo Jamaica 2010 is a potent and timely reminder that the export sector needs all hands on deck in the face of contracting markets and stiff economic hurdles brought on by the global recession,” he stated.
Mr. Evans disclosed that the goods producing and services industries registered declines of 7.6 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively, from October to December last year. He said that for 2009, non-traditional exports declined by 43.68 per cent dropping from US$1,048.4 million in 2008 to US$590.4 million in 2009, while fresh produce exports slumped by 21.7 per cent moving from 36.4 million kilograms in 2008 to 28.5 million kilograms in 2009.
In the meantime, Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), which is partnering with the JEA and the JMA to host the expo, is pulling out all the stops to bring buyers to Jamaica for the event.
Manager of Export Promotion at the JTI, Berletta Forrester, said that in addition to overseas buyers, the JTI is also targeting local buyers as there is a need for import substitution to decrease the demand for foreign exchange.
Among the measures, she outlined in the JTI’s buyer recruitment plan is the production of a buyers’ guide in three languages, English, Spanish and French, for distribution across the globe. She said the JTI has also produced promotional flyers and banners, which have been distributed.
The JTI has also worked out incentives with local hotels for accommodation and with American Airlines for air transport for potential buyers attending the conference. The expo coincides with the Diaspora Conference to be held in Ocho Rios, and the JTI is making arrangements to have attendees be shuttled to the event.
Ms. Forrester informed that the JTI has also been in contact with local embassies and consulates for their cooperation in getting buyers here, has contacted all the buyers on the JTI’s database, and has set up online registration to make it easier for buyers to sign up for the expo.
As part of its role in hosting the expo, the JTI will also be arranging and hosting meetings between particular buyers and suppliers.
EXPO Jamaica 2010 will feature several products ranging from art and craft and fashion to information communication technology and packaging and labeling. There will be a special opening and buyers’ reception on June 17, starting at 5:00 p.m., with the event being open to the public on June 18 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and June 19 and 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.