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State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, says growth within Jamaica’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSMEs) is expected to be significantly boosted with development of the country’s global transshipment and logistics hub.

Speaking at the Jamaica Exporters Association’s (JEA) 47th Annual General Meeting in Kingston, recently, Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said, when implemented, the hub will provide a platform to integrate the MSME sector into the global supply chain by creating opportunities for a host of down-stream industries, including those that are service-based”.

She said that the logistics hub will also serve as a “supply chain optimization platform” to support Jamaica’s export sector, for both the exportation of services and manufactured goods. This, she argued, presents significant business opportunities in the new wave of down-stream export oriented industries.

“This platform will enhance Jamaica’s competitive advantage within the sector by speeding up the turnaround time and reducing the cost of doing business. It will strengthen our efforts to boost growth in our niche manufacturing sector in areas such agro-processing and light manufacturing of items, such as medical devices, which are fast becoming big business in today’s world,” she noted.

Development of the transshipment and logistics hub is being undertaken by the Government in a bid to position Jamaica to take advantage of the anticipated increase in maritime activities, resulting from the expansion of the Panama Canal, by 2015.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams gave the assurance that the Ministry, through its agency, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), will continue to pursue collaborations and undertakings to “fulfill its mandate” to the export community.

One main area of focus, the State Minister said, is to advance the National Export Strategy (NES), to enhance exporters’ capacities to supply, promote, and effectively access foreign markets.

She said a major initiative under NES is the FINPYME Export Plus Programme, coordinated by JAMPRO in collaboration with JEA. The aid-for-trade programme, an initiative of the Inter-American Investment Corporation, was launched in October and is being executed across the region.  

It is designed to improve access to export markets for MSMEs, through the provision of technical assistance to improve their competitiveness.It is also geared towards developing trade-related skills, and infrastructure. Technical assistance sessions for participating stakeholders focus on certification, operations, and management.

The programme is being executed with the support of the Government of the Republic of Korea, through its SME Development Trust. Jamaica is among a select number of countries in which the FYNPYME Export Plus Programme has been implemented.

“To date, 41 MSMEs have registered to participate in the programme with the first technical assistance session taking place earlier this month (November) on financing. I invite those of you, who haven’t yet registered, to do so as the benefits offered by the programme are invaluable to your business,” she stated.

Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams noted that as part of efforts to enhance the country’s competitiveness globally, Jamaica must provide the right environment for exporters to conduct business easily and trade across borders. She said, in recognition of this, the Ministry has sought to increase efforts to create an enabling business environment through the work of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).

The Council, which is chaired by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, has developed a comprehensive reform agenda, outlining key initiatives to be implemented by 2014, in order to improve Jamaica’s competitiveness ranking globally.