Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, has emphasised that a vibrant export sector is vital to the country's growth, and forms a major pillar of long-term economic stability and sustainability.
Addressing hundreds of exporters and key partners in the manufacturing and exporting trade during JAMPRO’s Interactive Exporter Forum at Hotel Riu, in Montego Bay, on March 15, Mr. Hylton reiterated that “export-led trade is a centrepiece of the country’s economic growth strategy and is a focal point of the Ministry."
"We must renew our export strategy on the basis of establishing the capacity to penetrate global markets and achieve sustained growth of exports, thus driving employment and income generation. Besides, the export sector is the key to growth in an economy that relies heavily on imports of capital goods and needed supplies to support domestic production. After all, we are required to pay for these commodities in foreign currency," he pointed out.
The Minister indicated that the Ministry has come to accept the reality that there are visible challenges in developing a viable export strategy, especially in a globally competitive marketplace.
"As we seek to drive export to anchor economic growth, the challenge of heightened global competition is compounded by the fact that the government is facing conditions of limited fiscal capacity, arising from its oversized public debt. But I believe that we have no option but to embrace the challenge and get the job done. Embracing this challenge requires that we work closely as a team and in partnership to put in place the core elements of a viable export strategy. We must take bold steps to develop world-class enterprises that will drive the country’s competitiveness in global markets," Mr. Hylton said.
He told the over 200 participants at the forum, held under the theme: ‘Let’s talk exports – programmes and initiatives supporting the export community’, that a viable export strategy must reflect a very clear understanding of the process of economic globalization and its implications for how the country engages global markets.
"The challenges are much greater going forward – economic globalization heightens competitiveness and raises the standards necessary to develop, implement and sustain a viable export strategy, thereby imposing some challenges for the export sector,” the Minister argued.
He pointed out that export-oriented enterprises need to embrace a culture of innovation that includes adaptation to a changing marketplace that demands the adoption of advanced technology and practices as a centrepiece of the country’s strategy for improving competitiveness at the firm and industry levels.
"We must modernise our production facilities as a means for integrating our businesses into the global supply-chain,” the Minister said, while assuring exporters that plans are far advanced for the development of a national export strategy.
"Jamaica’s national export strategy is a unified strategic initiative that seeks to maximise the export sector’s direct contribution to economic and social development. The strategy is being developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, with technical assistance from the International Trade Centre (ITC) and partial funding from the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP), a joint initiative of the Government of Jamaica and the European Union," Mr. Hylton informed.
He said the Ministry, through JAMPRO, has advanced a number of initiatives and has intensified its efforts to develop strategies aimed at transforming the export sector.
"The focus of the government’s export strategy is on improving the competitiveness of Jamaican firms and increasing penetration of domestically produced goods and services in global markets. Significant emphasis is being placed on export development, export promotion activities and the development of supply-chain infrastructure. The objective is to support companies that are export-ready by providing services that build their competitiveness and by employing a project based approach to export development, export clustering and networking,” the Minister explained.
The interactive session which followed the presentation was very intense, with Mr. Hylton and his JAMPRO team responding to questions and assisting exporters how to work through challenges they are experiencing.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter