Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says there is a need for a relevant and well thought out services sector policy geared at strengthening employment possibilities, productivity and innovation in the Jamaican marketplace.
He noted that such a policy would also position Jamaica to seize the many wide ranging opportunities available globally. “A well functioning services sector is critical to the overall performance of the Jamaican economy and the development of its people,” he stated.
The Minister was addressing stakeholders on Friday (June 22) during the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) services sector planning workshop held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
The workshop, held under the theme: ‘Towards the Preparation of the New Medium Term Socio-economic Policy Framework (MTF) 2012-2015’, focused on identifying and agreeing on the priority issues affecting three specific service industries.
These included finance and insurance services; real estate, renting and business activities; and wholesale and retail trade, repair and installation of machinery.
The Minister welcomed the planning workshop, noting that it is imperative that all stakeholders come to a common ground regarding the issues and challenges to be addressed in Jamaica, and in particular, the services sector.
He said the Ministry was profoundly aware of the significant contribution of the industry to the Jamaican economy, adding that during the period 2007 to 2011, the sector represented an average of 75.8 per cent of total goods and services production.
“The economy has lost some of its competitiveness in the goods producing sector. Therefore services are increasingly critical to the new growth path that our country is pursuing,” he remarked.
Mr. Hylton noted that this new growth in services is not to underestimate the importance of manufacturing, but is indicative of a world-wide trend.
He informed that according to an April 2012 World Bank report, services, as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows, have increased in importance globally, including in transition countries of Europe and central Asia.
The study also showed that services now constitute about 70 per cent of global GDP, with FDI flows shifting towards services and now constituting almost half of total FDI flows in developing countries.
Furthermore, services are now a key part of the regional agreements of both the United States and the European Union, Mr. Hylton said.
“Our current negotiations with Canada, and any future negotiations for that matter, must include services trade if these agreements are to be beneficial and to aid our economic and social development,” the Industry Minister said.
He noted, therefore, that “services will play a key role…in the immediate future with our focus on growth and on integrating Jamaica into the global economy”.
The one-day workshop also saw presentations from Programme Coordinator, JAMPRO, Asha Bobb-Semple on the Jamaica Coalition of Service Industries; and Programme Director, PIOJ, Richard Lumsden on Services Sector: Progress Report, Priority Issues and Actions.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter