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Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, met with individuals from the local export community Tuesday (April 20), in a bid to increase communication between industry players, as well as develop effective solutions to sector problems.
The forum, titled “Let’s Talk Exports,” was held at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club in St. Catherine. It was the first in a series of islandwide seminars for the Minister and local exporters to discuss the issues retarding efficiency and productivity in the sector.
Mr. Samuda said that the ideas and solutions coming out of the discussions will ultimately assist in shaping government policy initiatives, geared towards enhancing the competitiveness of the sector. Some of the main issues discussed were the availability of sources of financing and the accessibility of export markets.

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, addresses exporters during an Interactive Exporter Forum titled, ‘Let’s Talk Exports’, held at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club, in St. Catherine, on April 20.

Mr. Samuda also spoke candidly with exporters, informing them that a no-nonsense approach to exporting was critical in order to revitalise and improve the market.
“If we do not produce goods and services at internationally competitive levels we will not make it. Let us commit ourselves to starting afresh, (as) our export community has not performed in a particularly dynamic way over the last few years,” he stated.
“I measure the extent to which we perform by the money that is recorded in our public accounts – what is the earnings of exports and in what categories,” he added.
Mr. Samuda told the exporters that often the actual performance of the industry has been covered by the earnings of certain areas, such as bauxite and alumina, which “have for years masked the reality that we have failed to take advantage of all (the opportunities) that we have been talking about.”

Jamaica Promotions Corporation/Jamaica Trade and Invest (JAMPRO/JTI) Board member, Mr. Christopher Zacca, listens as Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, makes a point during an Exporters Forum, held at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club in St. Catherine on April 20. Listening (from left) are: Director of Investment in the Ministry, Miss Tanikie McClarthy, and President of JAMPRO/JTI, Mrs. Sancia Bennett-Templer.

He said this included the establishment of niche products and establishing innovative products that are typically Jamaican, which can be branded Jamaican, as well as “the extent to which we have converted ideas into actual inflows of (United States) dollars into the country.”
President of the Jamaica Promotions Corporation/Jamaica Trade and Invest (JAMPRO/JTI), Mrs. Sancia Bennett-Templer, said that world trade declined by about 30 per cent in 2009, with Jamaica also seeing a significant decline last year. “A lot of this has been a result of the bauxite sector,” she said.
The JAMPRO/JTI President however advised that though there have been problems, there are many areas in which Jamaica could continue to compete and grow. She noted that there was a nine per cent increase in the export of beverages and tobacco, and non-traditional foods have also shown a slight increase.
To garner further improvements and success in the sector, Vice President of Trade and Business Development at JAMPRO/JTI, Ms. Delaine Morgan, said the organisation has implemented a number of changes in its operations.
These she said included the formation of a team dedicated to providing export development services for exporters, which is geared towards enhancing the competitiveness of export-ready firms and to enhance the capacity of local exporters in markets.
“This team is also involved in facilitating linkages between our foreign as well as local investors and suppliers of goods and services, with the objective of improving the absorptive capacity of our economy,” she said.
Miss Morgan added that, as part of the reorganisation of the operations, a dedicated team has been formed to focus on the demand side issues, which involve the execution of a number of marketing and trade promotion initiatives, proactively identifying export opportunities and generating critical trade leads in key target markets, namely the US, Canada, the European Union, Caribbean and Latin America and other emerging markets.
She also said in order to complement the work of the export promotions team, JAMPRO/JTI has also expanded its regional offices with the reopening of its office in Canada to focus on the North American market.
The trade and business development executive also said the organisation has worked to streamline its research operations, to allow for a more proactive approach in addressing the information needs of exporters.