JIS News

State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Michael Stern, has stressed the need for sector interests to take steps to ensure they are fully prepared to take advantage of market access, particularly in Europe Union (EU) member countries.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day Technical Assistance to the Caribbean (TACARI) Regional EU Market Access Seminar, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, on March 3, Mr. Stern said that Jamaica and the entire Caribbean had “immense potential in terms of our natural and unnatural resources,” which could yield significant benefits if the necessary preparations are undertaken to tap into those markets.
“Market access can boost national export performance and competitiveness. When we talk about EU market access, we think about the EU single market, with its 455 million consumers. The EU is reportedly the world’s largest food importer, importing more agricultural products from developing countries than the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand combined,” the State Minister noted.
In this regard, Mr. Stern said the EU offered major opportunities, particularly for fruit and vegetable processors and exporters. He pointed out, however, that in order to take advantage of these opportunities, there was need for greater technical training and improvements in the performance of businesses, “so that they can compete more effectively in the global market.”
The TACARI project is aimed at increasing trade between Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the EU by promoting the EU market access capacity of Intermediary Business Organizations, such as Chambers of Commerce and Industry, sector associations, and export promoters. As a participant in the TACARI project, Mr. Stern said Jamaica was one of several Caribbean nations cognizant of the need for greater inter-regional networking synergies, and was initiating moves in this regard.
“We cannot but recognize the immense opportunities that are open to us as a region with the training and equipping of our business organizations to continuously improve their ability to access the EU market,” he emphasised, pointing out that micro, small and medium enterprises were capable of exploiting export-oriented opportunities and developing special niches in areas such as the creative industries, processed foods, and non-traditional products, among others.
“By focusing on areas such as agriculture, fisheries, wood, furniture, and manufacturing, the TACARI project will not only improve trade and investment between the EU and CARICOM, as a result of improved capacity, but very importantly, will also impact on growth and employment in these key sectors. Very importantly (also), our small and medium enterprises will be strengthened in performance and capacity with EU access information services as well as identifying CARICOM-EU business opportunities,” the State Minister informed.
The seminar, which is being attended by regional and European delegates, is jointly staged by Jamaica Trade and Invest, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Suriname Trade and Industry Association, Employers’ Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago, and the EG-aviescenntrum, a Dutch information and consultancy agency on small and medium enterprises with the EU. The forum is being sponsored by PROINVEST, an EU/African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) partnership programme.

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