- Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is expressing confidence that the country’s capacity to export will improve within the next two years.
- For his part, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda, praised the EU for its assistance in creating an enabling environment for the increased presence of Jamaican exports regionally and the EU Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) markets in keeping with the commitment of the EPA.
- The objective of the export forum was to highlight the very valuable work carried out over the last few years through the EPA projects to strengthen Jamaica’s quality infrastructure and food safety systems.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is expressing confidence that the country’s capacity to export will improve within the next two years.
He attributed this to a number of strategies being put in place to enhance Jamaica’s access to international markets.
The Prime Minister was addressing an export forum held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on June 2.
A key tactic being employed is expansion of Jamaica Promotions Corporation’s (JAMPRO) Export Max II programme, which aims to improve the export business performance and competitiveness of participating companies.
Mr. Holness informed that at his insistence, the number of companies to benefit under the programme is to be increased to 50 this year, up from the initial 20.
“The training is significant because it gives the entrepreneurs involved exposure to the requirements; (better) understanding of the rules; access to markets; interfacing with the important people in the industry; and it helps them to get on the road to export,” he said.
The programme seeks to facilitate 50 per cent growth in export sales and access to new markets for all firms, as well as generate a minimum of 15 trade leads for each of the participating companies.
Another method the Prime Minister has used to boost exports is appointing investment Ambassadors, who have responsibility for stimulating economic opportunities for Jamaica overseas.
The two Ambassadors are assisting in creating new markets and opportunities for Jamaica in Europe, India and the Middle East.
“Jamaica’s market will never be sufficient to grow our businesses to the level where you would see major growth in our country. So, Jamaica must develop (strategies) to expand its exports,” he asserted.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister said the country’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union has been instrumental in improving the country’s ability to export, thereby reducing a major impediment to growth.
“I recognise the value of this programme in loosening one major constraint on our growth potential – the ability to export,” he said.
The Prime Minister further noted that the interventions under the EPA Capacity-Building Projects are important, given that there has been a “consistent decline in our export numbers” over the last three years.
Mr. Holness emphasised that this must be reversed “if we are going to achieve any significant growth.”
“It is an important aspect of loosening the constraint that is locking us into this low growth environment,” he said.
For his part, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda, praised the EU for its assistance in creating an enabling environment for the increased presence of Jamaican exports regionally and the EU Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) markets in keeping with the commitment of the EPA.
“We welcome the positive impact that the EPA project has been having in promoting greater control in the use of chemicals in agricultural production. We also appreciate the wider implications for environmentally friendly management schemes and relevant certification along with the attention that is being placed on international food safety standards as well as access to safer food for Jamaicans,” he said.
In his remarks, Head of Operations for the Delegation of the EU to Jamaica, Achim Schaffert, said the EU remains committed to trade liberalisation and improving Jamaica’s access to export markets.
He noted that the EU has provided financial and technical support of more than $25 billion for private sector development in Jamaica, including support to the banana and sugar industries.
The EPA between CARIFORUM countries and the EU was signed in 2008. It is a free trade agreement which promotes trade and investment between the region and overseas markets, particularly those in Europe.
Two projects have been conceptualised out of this agreement – EPA Capacity Building I and II – which are being implemented by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
Financed with grants from the EU totalling €7.2 million, the projects are broadly aimed at diversifying and promoting growth in exports of fresh agricultural produce and agro-processed products.
Specifically, the projects seek to strengthen local capacity for product testing and certification by equipping labs to achieve International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification as well as to build awareness among the private sector on international standards and technical requirements.
The objective of the export forum was to highlight the very valuable work carried out over the last few years through the EPA projects to strengthen Jamaica’s quality infrastructure and food safety systems.
It also aimed to sensitise exporters and the public in general about the importance of compliance with international quality standards and the ways in which the EPA projects can help exporters to respond to technical barriers to trade.