JIS News

Industry, Investment, and Commerce Minister, Karl Samuda, has said that a holistic approach to economic growth and development is needed in Jamaica, noting that trade liberation has not provided the panacea intended.
“It has been our experience here in Jamaica that liberalization has, in effect, led to increased imports of finished products, which have proven to be a serious challenge to the domestic manufacturing sector,” the Minister stated in a speech delivered by Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Reginald Budhan, at the opening of a three-day World Trade Organization/Inter-American Development Bank Workshop on Non-Agricultural Market Access Negotiations (NAMA) for Caribbean Countries today (June 11) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.
According to Minister Samuda, liberalization commenced in Jamaica in the early 1980s under the structural adjustment programmes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) and continued for more than 25 years and during this period, imports have increased drastically by nearly 450 per cent, while exports have increased at a much slower rate of 94 per cent.
In 1978, exports were 89 per cent of imports, and in 2005, exports were merely an estimated 32 per cent of imports. Since 1990, imports have increased by 144 per cent and exports have increased by a mere 33 per cent, Mr. Samuda noted.
Stating that liberalization “has not been the panacea it was made out to be,” particularly within the Jamaican context, he said that as imports increased, local manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete in the domestic, regional, and international markets.
He noted however, that the Jamaican government believed that manufacturing has a future in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, pointing out that the sector continues to make an important contribution to the local economy.
“In Jamaica, the manufacturing sector grew by 0.9 per cent during 2007, contributing 0.1 percentage point to overall growth, and 12.6 per cent to total GDP (gross domestic product), surpassing the combined contribution of other goods and producing sectors such as agriculture 5.3 per cent, and mining 5.5 per cent,” he stated.
The Minister advised that between January and October 2007, earnings from locally manufactured goods exported totalled US$705.8 million, which, he said, represented a 7.3 per cent increase, compared with the corresponding period in 2006.
“For 2008, the manufacturing sector is projected to grow by 1.8 percent, (and) we hope that it will surpass this projection,” he added.
Mr. Samuda said the Ministry, in collaboration with Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), and the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA) launched a national export strategy in April, which he described as a “unified strategy to advance the competitiveness of firms and sectors, while enhancing the business and trade environment in order to improve Jamaica’s export performance.” Central to this, he stressed, were efforts to increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to overall exports.
Turning to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARIFORUM states and the European Community, Mr. Samuda noted that the arrangement provides duty-free and quota-free access for all exports from the region, including manufactured products, to the European Union.
“It is important that the region’s manufacturers and exporters position themselves to take advantage of the market access opportunities provided in the EPA, and other trade arrangements, to expand their exports. This will require, among other things, addressing supply side constraints, and building productive capacity,” Mr. Samuda underscored.

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