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Exporters in the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector are being encouraged to take full advantage of the newly launched FINPYME ExportPlus Jamaica programme, which seeks to improve the capacity of SMEs to better access export markets.

This call came from Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, as he addressed the ceremony to launch the initiative at the Terra Nova All Suites hotel in Kingston, on October 4.

"I am sure the programme will be a success, and, therefore, I charge every eligible exporting SME to take advantage of the opportunities available through this initiative," the Minister implored.

An initiative of the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), a collaborating arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the FINPYME ExportPlus programme, which is significantly funded by the Government of Korea, currently provides technical assistance to exporters in 17 countries throughout the Caribbean.  

Among the objectives of the programme are to assist SMEs with building export readiness ; improving market access; increasing the performance and exports; and providing development support and assistance to SMEs.

Mr. Hylton said the programme is a further commitment of the Government to strengthen Jamaica’s platform for export-led growth.

"The launch of this ExportPlus programme is taking place against the background of the determined effort of Government to improve the competitiveness of the export sector and the ease of doing business generally," he said.

Mr. Hylton further noted that the ExportPlus programme is a key component of Jamaica's National Export Strategy (NES), which represents a unified strategic initiative to maximise the export sector's direct contribution to economic and social development.

He pointed out that the focus of the Government’s export strategy is to improve the competitiveness of Jamaican firms, with significant emphasis being placed on export development, export promotion activities and the development of supply chain infrastructure. He said ExportPlus is, therefore, one of the key programmes under the NES that will provide much needed technical assistance to the export community.

"At the end of the programme, we expect that there will be marked improvement in participating SMEs' capacity to compete more confidently and effectively in international markets," he added.

Division Chief, Technical Assistance and Strategic Partnerships, IIC, Dr. Jorge Roldán, also encouraged entrepreneurs to "take full advantage of what we are offering here today."

"Rarely do opportunities like these arise in our lives, especially for business people; so take full advantage of it. I tell you because I know and I have experience in 11 other countries where the programme has already been successfully running. It is a great opportunity to make companies better companies and help them compete in the global economy," he said.

Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Jamaica, His Excellency Kimo Lim, pointed out that there are diverse growth opportunities ready to be discovered in the export sector, especially for SMEs that export, and expressed the belief that FINPYME ExportPlus will be "an excellent vehicle to explore these opportunities."

"I am certain the programme will be a formidable experience for all involved and the outcome will be a model case for future programmes to reference," he added.

Meanwhile, President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Sancia Bennett-Templer, said the initiative is the next step "in the country's drive to develop the export capacity of Jamaica's SMEs and to equip them to access and compete in international markets."

"JAMPRO, working closely with the IDB and the IIC as well as key local partners such as the Jamaica Exporters' Association, will seek to use the ExportPlus programme as a tool to provide technical assistance and funding to implement key programmes and initiatives and activities that will directly impact the beneficiary companies," she said.

"It's a very good complement to the work that we do, a very good complement to our export promotion efforts, because this programme will seek to ensure that our exporters are ready, in terms of all of the compliance requirements to meet the demands of  the international markets" she added.

Under the FINPYME ExportPlus programme, the IIC carries out a market study, selects companies in strategic sectors that could benefit from the programme, and provides them with direct technical assistance that leads to specific benefits and produces concrete results.

The programme was launched in 2009 in Guatemala as a pilot project. Today the programme has been extended to several other countries in the Central American and Caribbean region, such as El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana and Suriname.