Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most. Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller
My Colleague Ministers of Government
Representatives from international development agencies
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the local and international business community
Our special invited investors
Other specially invited guests
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen;
Allow me to add my own words of special welcome to this most significant business event. This forum is being spearheaded by the Government of Jamaica, through its focal agency for investment promotion and facilitation- JAMPRO and the Compete Caribbean Programme, is a joint effort of the UK Department for International Development, DFID, the Canadian Development Agency, CIDA, and the Inter-American Development Bank, the IDB.
On behalf of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and the Government of Jamaica, we wish to extend our gratitude to the Compete Caribbean partners, as well as to members of the Jamaican private sector who have provided significant sponsorship for this initiative in tangible demonstration of their commitment to Jamaica’s economic development. This event too, has been an exemplary demonstration of our approach to “private/public partnership."
Location, People and Price
Now, to the matter at hand…
This forum is more than an event to showcase the range and diversity of investment opportunities that are available for your examination. In point of fact, I know many of you are already aware of the important attributes of our country that would have compelled you to make this important trip. Chief among our many endowments would be:
· Location-our geographical location and proximity to the two major markets of the Western Hemisphere- North America and South America is a huge advantage. If your business requires a platform that gives your near shore advantage to these markets, then setting up operations in Jamaica makes good business sense.
· The 2nd key reason would be Jamaica’sPeople Advantage- of being the 3rd largest English speaking island in this Hemisphere with a 1.2 million strong workforce that is educated, skilled, trainable and competitively priced.
You are here because you know that wecan deliver location, people and price.
But I think there is more you would want to get out of this meeting.
As the Minister charged with the responsibility of driving the process of business and investments in Jamaica, I stand with my Prime Minister in saying to you today that you are dealing with a Government that has a fresh and decisive mandate from the people. In deciding to invest your money here, you are dealing with a constitutional democracy, where notwithstanding change in Governments, contractual obligations are always honoured and the Rule of Law is respected.
We are a government that is confident, buoyed by our mandate from the People. We have a clear vision of where we are going and the mandate that we must fulfil for the people of Jamaica.
The Primacy of Leadership and Business Sophistication
At the heart of our confidence is an intrinsic understanding of the primacy of sound leadership and enlightened governance.
Leaders must lead with skilful hands guided by integrity of heart.
Leaders must not be afraid to have bold vision, to try new things, to improve upon what exists, and to chart new pathways forward in a turbulent world.
I offer to you today a Government of Jamaica that is prepared to manage the myriad of challenges posed by the global economic environment. And I say so, because of our growing business sophistication as a country.
Jamaica is more than an island.
Our world-class telecoms and connected financial services sector, have given us more than just broad-band connectivity and extensive reach and plug-into global financial markets.
We are implementing the principles of “Whole of Government”.
We understand, that it will be only through collaboration that we achieve swift, and more meaningful results!
Functional, proactive government and enhanced private-public sector partnerships are the new drivers of business and commerce in today’s inter-connected world!
I think Jamaica understands the value of “Whole of Government”, or as we call it in Jamaica, “Join-up Government”; and we are putting this in full demonstration today.
You will notice that in all our breakout sessions today focusing on the three key sectors: niche manufacturing, health and wellness tourism and IT Export Services, that we have paired up two ministers in these panels to ensure that there is policy collaboration and coordination on these important growth areas.
· I myself will be jointly hosting the session on “Investing in BPOand IT Export Services” with my colleagueMinister of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining, the Hon. Phillip Paulwell. And let me hasten to add, that is not for show, because Phillip and myself speak almost daily about how science and technology policy must converge with BPO and ICT investments.
· In the session on Health and Wellness Tourism, The Minister of Tourism, Dr. Wykeham McNeill will co-host with the Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson to ensure that the policy environment and Road Map required to make wellness tourism take-off in Jamaica, happen in a big way.
· In the session on Niche Manufacturing, The Hon Roger Clarke, Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries will team up with the Hon Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, the Minister of State in Industry, Investment & Commerce.
We are therefore seeking to demonstrate to you that this is, and will remain a highly collaborative Government, in particular as it relates to foreign direct investments.
We must capitalize on the gains we have made in growing the Jamaican BPO industry to become the leading contact centre location in the English-speaking Caribbean with over 10,000 full time agents in the offshore business process outsourcing (BPO) sector. With an established track record in finance & accounting, human resource outsourcing (HRO), receivables management, technical helpdesk support, outbound sales and lead generation, Jamaica has been recognized by Gartner as a destination to watch and by A.T. Kearney as a favourable BPO destination.
With near shore access to the US, low attrition rates and high labour force availability among secondary and university graduates, Jamaica provides great value to businesses looking for a BPO destination. These advantages, as well as the fact that the Government has demonstrated its support for this priority sector, have kept industry heavyweights such ACS (Xerox), Teleperformance and West Corporation operating in the island for almost a decade.
Jamaica is ideally situated to take advantage of export-oriented manufacturing and assemble opportunities. Its location at the center of the shipping routes between North and South America, Europe and the Far East, its skilled workforce and high level of social stability, combines to provide Jamaica with a strategic exporting platform. Additionally, the island boasts a diverse manufacturing sector which includes: beverages, processed foods, chemicals, plastics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and apparels. The sector has niche investment opportunities in:
· Agro-processing; Furniture and Manufacturing; Boat Building and Bio-technology.
Jamaica is the perfect tourist destination and entertains port visits from several of the world’s premier cruise ships. Health and wellness tourism is a growing interest and has become a global trend for the health conscious traveler who seeks to enhance wellbeing through the travel experience. Jamaica has upscale hotels which have extended their services to accommodate visitors who use spa therapy facilities as the deciding factor in their choice of resort vacations.
The range of investment opportunities in Jamaica’s tourism sector is diverse and pivots on the availability of land and hotel properties ideally suited for resort development across the island.
Global Shipping and Logistics
Despite the challenges facing our country, Jamaica is poised to take advantage of the window of opportunity to position itself as a global shipping and logistics hub, and the government intends to do whatever is necessary to facilitate investments in the infrastructure required to take advantage of this closing opportunity.
This investment opportunity is considerable and includes the implementation of least five (5) different elements:
(i) The dredging of the Kingston Harbour and expansion of the port facilities,
(ii) Establishing a Dry Dock facility at Jackson Bay, Clarendon on our south coast
(iii) Establishing a bunkering facility at Cow Bay in Yallahs, St Thomas, on the south eastern end of the island;
(iv) Construction of a cargo and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) facility at Vernamfield, Clarendon; and,
(v) The development of the Caymanas Economic Zone —
Altogether these projects represent a potential investment effort that will drive growth and employment for many years – positioning Jamaica as the logistic hub for trade in the Americas.
International Financial Services Centre
The Government is also committed to the development of an international financial services centre. Legislation was passed in Parliament in 2010 to establish the Jamaica International Financial Services Authority [JIFSA] whose mandate it is to market and promote Jamaica as a centre for international financial services and to enhance our reputation as a centre of excellence for the provision of such services.
Jamaica’s entry into the market will be as a Mid-Value Competitor, meaning we are committed to providing sophisticated high value services, rather than merely company incorporation. Our existing strengths include our well established tradition and infrastructure for hosting international business people, our robust telecommunications infrastructure; most importantly our hundreds of well-trained bankers, accountants, lawyers and other professionals who are well poised to provide the services that are required by the international financial community at the most competitive rates available anywhere.
I would like to affirm to the gathering that we know where we are going, and we know that getting to our destination will require us to think differently and to act wisely in how we engage investors in this economy, whether foreign or domestic.
Our assurance to you today, is that the nature of this new engagement will be transformative and pragmatic. This is what we mean when we say “Jamaica: Ready for Business!”
This forum demonstrates a fundamental re-think of how we are going about the business of investment and business facilitation; and in many respects, our meeting today reflects a convergence of global business with local business. In time, the distinctions will blur as Jamaica becomes a bigger and more influential player on the global stage.
Jamaica has already attracted high levels of foreign direct investments, but we’re now in ready to escalate our work and our results.
We feel confident that we can do so because of our world view and our global outlook. We understand the world.
It is this understanding that has given us preferential access into the US and European markets, and that fuels our renewed commitment to the CARICOM Project of ensuring the realization of a single market and economy among the 15 countries of CARICOM, including Haiti with a resident population of over 16 million, plus the over 30 million annual tourist visitors to our region.
We also have favourable double taxation treaties and network of trade agreements.
As we celebrate our 50 years of Independence we have developed much more than a first class tourism product.
We have also built a first class foreign policy and foreign trade policy that will enable us to better integrate into to today’s global economy.
We have a good neighbour foreign policy. We have only friends, no enemies!
By sharpening our understanding of the global investment environment, and making our own significant investments in developing our human capital and physical infrastructure over time; we can truly affirm that “Jamaica is open and ready for business”.
The best efforts of both our public and private sectors will be directed towards realizing winning outcomes in these areas. But we are keen to hear your ideas and to engage your partnership to advance our position as one of the best places to do business in Latin America and the Caribbean.
We are ready for your business, and we are prepared to work harder and to go further in helping you to achieve breakthrough results for your investment.
I look forward to the deliberations we will have today, the deals we will make; and the partnerships we will forge as we move to secure our mutual interests.
Let’s do some business.
I thank you.