JIS News

The St. Thomas business sector is being urged to increase production, as part of the national thrust to boost exports to meet development goals.
Assistant Director for Foreign Trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Allison Stone, in her address at a trade sensitisation forum held recently at the Morant Villas Hotel, noted that “foreign trade offered the business sector in St. Thomas the opportunity to earn foreign exchange, which helps the individual and the parish to meet developmental goals.”
“Foreign trade in rural areas can be a reference point for job creation particularly for the farming sector,” she told the gathering of farmers, small and medium business representatives, teachers and students.
The forum, organised by the Ministry, is part of a series of discussion sessions being held across the island, to sensitise Jamaicans about the need to increase the country’s trade in goods and services, as the preferential markets the country once enjoyed are now either operating under new rules or have been diminished.
“We have been successful in securing money for our traditional industries that are in transition,” informed Carol Lee of the Ministry’s Foreign Trade Department. “This allows us to look at, for example, bananas more productively and at the by-products of those industries,” she noted.
According to Miss Stone, with the erosion in the competitiveness of products such as sugar and bananas, more emphasis would have to be placed on diversification and finding new markets. “There are new markets existing for our bananas because it’s organically grown, so there is an important niche market in Europe”, she pointed out.
She said that mango was one product that could be produced for export, but noted that it would face a lot of competition from other tropical countries. “What you have to ask is what is different about our mangoes from St. Thomas .as well as at the feasibility of exporting the crop,” she pointed out.
She suggested that farmers and other entrepreneurs could work with agencies such as the Jamaica Agricultural Society, JAMPRO and the Ministry of Agriculture, to see what products they could produce or manufacture competitively.