JIS News

President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Patricia Francis, has said that this year’s United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report is critical to aiding the direction of JAMPRO’s investment strategies.
This was necessary, she said, as the Corporation’s recent dynamic foreign investment programme and performance had plateaued this year.
Mrs. Francis was speaking at the launch of the report at JAMPRO’s Trafalgar Road offices, yesterday (September 29).
She informed that the agency had continued to facilitate significant investment projects, but had seen the value of its project portfolio stabilize at some $11 billion in the past two years.
“We have also seen a slow down in the pace of our clients who have been exporting about 14 per cent export growth in the past fiscal year, down from almost twice that in the previous year,” she noted. This, Mrs. Francis pointed out, had also motivated efforts to mobilize new and creative business ideas in an attempt to make innovative business offerings to the global market.
“The report guides us on the path to improving our ability to reap greater benefits from investment and improve levels of employment, wealth and standards of living,” she said.
The document focuses on the move towards internationalization or outsourcing of research and development in transnational corporation strategies.
n relation to motivating efforts to mobilize new and creative business ideas, chapter six of the report shares detailed ideas and case studies on developing national innovation systems that Mrs. Francis said called for “an explicit role for foreign investment”. “Traditionally, innovation systems have been protective of local content and have been skeptical of foreigners and associated capitalist motivations,” she added.
This year’s report, she continued, showed a changing dynamic, where countries such as Singapore and China were opening their creative processes to foreign capital.
“These countries are now attracting investment from chip manufacturing, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Where Jamaica and other developing countries have been hungry for new capital, this new approach to investment policy provides the fuel for a renewed innovation agenda, which can possibly see Jamaica producing new products and services to add greater value through creativity in our product offerings to the global marketplace,” she said.
Mrs. Francis said the country continued to “grapple with the need to see investment move into new dynamic areas to counter the negative effects of loss of preferences in traditional areas,” and was slow to adapt to new business ideas.
While expressing pleasure at the continued partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as efforts advanced to transform Jamaica to a knowledge-based society, Mrs. Francis encouraged broad-based scrutiny of the report, “but with an open mind to the concepts embodied therein. The report provides fodder to, for example, transformation of our music industry to a dynamic formal cluster”.
She noted that it also provided technical information to assist the herbal and agro processing sectors to become true innovation clusters. “The concept of the creative economy is a new paradigm, which is very appropriate for the Jamaica economy. This publication helps to guide our thinking towards the realization of our vision of Jamaica becoming the hub for creativity in this hemisphere,” she said.
In his presentation on key findings of the Report, Financial Consultant, John Jackson said although major work remained to be done, Jamaica continued to hold its own in the region, with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows at US$650 million for 2004. Jamaica saw FDI inflows of $721 million in 2003, the highest figure recorded in the country’s FDI history.
Global FDI inflows stood at US$648 billion in 2004, which was two per cent higher than in 2003, the report says, with flows to developing countries increasing by 40 per cent to reach US$233 billion, the second highest level ever recorded. Some 36 per cent of all FDI went to developing countries last year. Among developing regions, the largest increase in inward FDI was noted in Asia and Oceana, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, which accounted for 44 per cent.
Meanwhile, developed countries continued to account for the bulk of FDI outflows with some developing countries, particularly Asia, emerging as important sources of FDI. The report noted that a key driver of China’s outward FDI was that country’s growing demand for natural resources, as indicated by its investment projects in Latin America and Africa. The Report predicts a continuing rise in FDI in natural resources and related activities, due mainly to demand from rapidly developing economies in Asia.