JIS News

President of the Jamaica Manufacturer’s Association (JMA), Doreen Frankson has said that Caribbean countries must be cognizant of the changes in the international marketplace and that the region’s negotiating machinery, which is tougher today than it was a few years ago, must continue to put forward the Caribbean agenda.
She was speaking at the seventh annual Regional Manufacturer’s Association meeting, which was hosted by the JMA at its Duke Street offices yesterday (Sept. 28).
“As manufacturers, we must continue to be at the negotiating table with our well-researched negotiating positions. As a region, we are faced with increased competition from the influx of goods from low-cost producing countries such as China and the United States. Regional manufacturers also have to meet many standards, whether it is environmental or labour to access international markets,” she told the gathering.
“The 9/11 terrorist attacks have also had a major impact on the regional manufacturing sector. We now have to contend with the new security regulations and rules, which have increased production and export costs. There are other challenges common to us as regional manufacturers, such as high cost of shipping and port fees, security and utility costs, and high interest rates,” Ms. Frankson asserted.
She said that as a region, means must be devised to remain competitive as the manufacturing sector was vital to economic development. “We have to strengthen the image of our products in the international market,” she added, noting that the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007 presented the Caribbean with the prospect to do just that.
“It is estimated that the event will bring approximately 100,000 visitors to the region. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase our island and products so that these visitors will return to the Caribbean,” she stated.
“As Caribbean manufacturers, we must respond to the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented. To do so, we must enter into more regional partnerships, we must work together to improve the competitiveness of our goods in the international market. The region is dynamic, we have very strong brands, so let us continue to produce; let us continue to work together,” the JMA President urged.
Meanwhile, emphasizing that the meeting was one of particular importance, President of the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), James Moss Solomon, said as the region contended with globalization, one issue that must be addressed was the structure of companies, to determine “whether their structure enables them to take part in a much larger world and much larger markets”.
Also, he said, “we need to address how we grow, how do the companies that are already trans-Caribbean come together in strategic alliances in order to tackle much larger markets than we have faced before.
How do we trade with India and China with very large companies and how do we encourage companies, which are national companies to take advantage of the CSME (CARICOM Single Market and Economy).”
Further, Mr. Moss Solomon said, companies that were operating at a town, parish or city level must be encouraged to think about becoming national companies. Also, he said, strategies should be devised to put together a framework, “which allows for entrepreneurs, who are very small, to receive the necessary and appropriate funding for them to grow into large companies. We would have to have dialogue with the banking community. We have not really come to grips with how to finance ideas and intellectual property”.
In addition, the CAIC President said that his organization would be urging its members to talk about statistics in a more relevant and meaningful manner. “Sometimes we speak about macroeconomics and we don’t get down to discussing the nitty gritty of what business plans need to be,” he stressed.
Mr. Moss Solomon further informed that the CAIC was embarking on a plan to discuss hurricanes by “changing the nature of it from being an act of God where we think that we can cover it mainly by insurance to being a climatic condition in the region that we face.. quite simply, our Canadian counterparts know that in December, January, February and March, they are going to have snow and ice, and therefore the decisions they take toward their business are intended to deal with that climatic condition”.
In the region he said, it was well known that, there were periods of drought, rain and hurricanes and businesses and industries should be constructed in a way that made them resilient to these conditions.
Other issues discussed at the meeting, which was convened to deliberate on matters of globalisation, trade and collaboration in the region, included: the importance of the PetroCaribe Agreement to the region; regional preparation for the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference; African Caribbean Pacific/European Union negotiations; regional preparations for the CSME; bilateral agreements; CARICOM/Venezuela; and CARICOM/Cuba.