JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Industry, Investment, and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, has given an undertaking to seek the inclusion of the Services of the Caribbean (SOCA) Initiative in discussions between the Government and United States President, Barack Obama, during his State Visit to the island on April 9.
  • This, he says, is with a view to lobbying the President’s support for the initiative, through which the region’s business leaders are seeking to position engagements in the services sector as the centre of US-CARICOM trade and investment relations, under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).
  • Welcoming SOCA, Mr. Hylton described it as a “tremendous” initiative capable of contributing significantly to Jamaica’s and CARICOM’s economic development.

Industry, Investment, and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, has given an undertaking to seek the inclusion of the Services of the Caribbean (SOCA) Initiative in discussions between the Government and United States President, Barack Obama, during his State Visit to the island on April 9.

This, he says, is with a view to lobbying the President’s support for the initiative, through which the region’s business leaders are seeking to position engagements in the services sector as the centre of US-CARICOM trade and investment relations, under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).

The Minister gave the undertaking while addressing a SOCA public forum, hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Jamaica (AmCham), at the Jamaica Pegasus, on March 18.

Welcoming SOCA, Mr. Hylton described it as a “tremendous” initiative capable of contributing significantly to Jamaica’s and CARICOM’s economic development.

“The data is very clear that the services sector is where the greatest growth is likely to come from to sustain the Caribbean’s economies and societies. The Services of the Caribbean Initiative, is, I believe, the next major initiative that should really coalesce the support of the region’s businesses, academic institutions, and governments,” he argued.

Mr. Hylton contended that in acknowledging this, efforts must be made, in this regard, to ensure that growth is achieved and sustained, stressing that the focus must be global.

“The United States (being near-shore) is the logical market, not only because of its development, but because American companies know Jamaica and the Caribbean, very well,” he said.

Mr. Hylton said, however, that facilitating this engagement with the United States requires a “clear regime” that is specifically “rules-based,” to guarantee long-term business arrangements for entities desirous of investing in this initiative.

“Our business sector needs to realize that this is an achievable goal. I am pledged to work with AmCham and the various groups to ensure that in the discussion that President Obama will engage with the Jamaican Government, that an opportunity will be provided to raise the SOCA Initiative, as a possibility, and one that his administration will give support,” the Minister said.

Advancement of the SOCA Initiative is being spearheaded by the American Chambers of Commerce of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, and the Bahamas.

Regional stakeholders argue that as the Caribbean’s most dominant sector, services should replace the 30-year-old CBI goods-based preferential regime, which is no longer deemed reflective of the region’s economic reality or the bilateral trade and investment relationship with the United States.