Frequently Asked Questions - General

Jamaica continues to be a place of choice to do business for international companies, given its open market and competitive business environment, among other key attributes. If you are seeking to set up a new business in Jamaica, the information provided in links below will assist you with establishing your operations on the island.

Throughout the year, JAMPRO offers a number of capacity building workshops that are open to all potential and existing exporters. Among the workshop series usually offered are “Step by Step Guide to Exporting”; “Doing Business” (in select markets); “Packaging and Labelling” and “Innovative Financing Options”. These workshops are tailored to meet the specific information needs of exporters. For further information, please view our Calendar of Events or contact a JAMPRO facilitator.

JAMPRO provides a range of specialised business development services to exporters and export-ready companies, which are geared towards improving their export capability and overall competitiveness. These services include: 

  • Export advisory services to guide companies in taking the next step to bring their export product to market.
  • Conducting company diagnostics/needs assessments of export-oriented firms and guiding the development and implementation of enterprise upgrading plans
  • Providing support in the development of technical documents and proposals such as Business Plans, Export Development Plans, Loan Applications and Grant Proposals
  • Identifying sources of funding and providing assistance in accessing developmental programmes
  • Delivering individualised hand holding support and advice in the design and implementation of proper management and financial systems, standards and procedures
  • Affording access to a range of specially designed capacity building training on areas such as packaging and labelling, negotiating export sales contracts and accessing overseas markets

However, the Back Office Services (BOS) provided at each centre may differ. The partner agencies each provide various BOS services which a client can access by simply contacting the respective agency.

Export Centres/Business Information Points (EC/BIPs) offer a range of export-related services and export development tools that positively impact the export performance and competitiveness of existing and potential exporters. The range of services offered includes access to Internet, fax and photocopying; exporter registration; and advisory and trade information (export product information, market intelligence, etc.).

JAMPRO’s head office in Kingston and the Montego Bay office both house an Export Centre. Additional EC/BIPs are located island wide through various partner agencies such as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA).

Registration of IP in Jamaica only provides protection in Jamaica. Similar protection must also be sought in target markets prior to exporting goods to those markets. For further information on IP rights, please visit www.jipo.gov.jm.

The Jamaica Intellectual Property Organization (JIPO) provides companies and entrepreneurs with useful information about Intellectual Property (IP) and how to protect it. This entity is also the local authority charged with registering IP rights, and steps towards IP protection should be taken prior to any exporting activity.

In developing a detailed market study, the following should be considered:

  • Whether the country selected already imports the product (import statistics will show how much and from where)
  • The import duties that the product would attract
  • Other barriers to imports, such as import licensing
  • Local taxes on the product, such as sales tax
  • Frequency and cost of shipping or airfreight between Jamaica and the market
  • Regulations, such as quarantine and labelling standards, consumer protection rules, and product standards
  • Whether cultural differences need to be taken into account. Read economic and social literature on the target market to understand its fundamental characteristics 

When you have finished reading suitable material and completed some desk research, the next step is to prepare a basic export marketing plan. This plan will help you focus your activities to ensure that you achieve defined objectives. Don’t forget that if the situation changes, you may need to modify your plan. A well-prepared export plan may also assist you in obtaining finance from your bank if this proves necessary.

Having identified the country with the most potential, you should now be in a position to visit that target market. The main purpose of the visit will be to study the country’s special characteristics, to view the opportunities and competition first hand, and also enable you to seek and meet with suitable agents or distributors for your products.

JAMPRO’s Business Library, which is located at the agency’s head office at 18 Trafalgar Road in New Kingston, provides access to importer directories and other resources/tools to identify potential markets and conduct research on prospective buyers. Alternatively, you can contact a JAMPRO Export Promotions officer for assistance.

The top importers of fresh produce from Jamaica, as identified in the 2012 Fresh Produce Report, are the United States, Switzerland, Japan,Canada, United Kingdom, Holland, Belgium, Netherlands and France.

According to the 2012 Fresh Produce report, the top ten export products are cocoa beans, yam, coffee beans, papaya, sweet potato, pimento, dasheen, kola nut, mango, and tangelo ugli.

Based on the priorities established under the National Export Strategy (NES) and JAMPRO’s Strategic Corporate Plan, the target areas in the export sector are Agri- business, Minerals, Creative Industries, ICT, Aquaculture, Coffee, Services and Fashion

A company or individual can export a wide range of goods out of Jamaica. However, some goods are subject to export restrictions, and in these cases, applications must be made to the relevant authorities. All exports must be reported to Customs either by the exporter, agent, shipping company or airline company. For details on the main products that require export approval and the authority responsible for issuing the required permits, please visit the website of the Jamaican Customs Department.

Incoterms are international rules for the interpretation of trade terms. Incoterms make international trade easier and helps traders in different countries to understand one another. These standard trade definitions, which are most commonly used in international contracts, are protected by International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) copyright. 

To assist traders to understand the areas that the 13 Incoterms cover and how each one works, the official ICC website now publishes the Preambles to each term in read-only format, together with basic information and background. The Preambles do not spell out the obligations of buyer and seller, which are essential to correct use of Incoterms. This information may be obtained by consulting the full published texts of the 13 Incoterms, available online from ICC Publishing.

Certificate of Origin (CO) is a document that certifies the place of growth, production or manufacture of a particular product. Exporters are required to present this document:

  • When exporting to specific countries
  • When requested by the consignee for customs clearance
  • When it is stipulated in a letter of credit

The CO identifies goods and contains an express certification by a government authority or other empowered body, which authenticates that the goods in question originate in a specific country. It can be obtained from the Trade Board. Many overseas importers insist upon a CO when dealing with Jamaican exporters.

Although obtaining a CO is straightforward, it is important that specific procedures are followed:

  • You must include an Exporters Information Form Update. This form has to be completed together with a list of signatories authorised to sign the certificates on behalf of your company. 
  • Evidence of origin (i.e. copies of the invoice, a bill of lading, a letter of credit, or a statutory declaration) must be supplied prior to stamping.
  • Exporters must provide a copy of the documents being stamped.

Commission or indent agents sell on behalf of exporters and receive a commission on the sales made. Agents seek out potential customers and may be used to facilitate and promote your products in their respective markets. They may be paid a salary, a retainer, a commission or a combination of all three, but unlike importers/distributors, they do not take legal possession of any goods.

Importers/distributors solely import goods for resale to other companies in the distribution chain. They pay the exporters and take legal possession of the imported goods. Under the terms of their agreement with exporters, they are usually obliged to carry stocks and provide after sales service where necessary.

Freight forwarders move shipments between foreign and domestic locations, or a portion of the way. They handle many of the formalities involved in the process of exporting and importing. Additional information about freight forwarders, including contact details, can be obtained from the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of Jamaica (CBFFAJ), Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) and Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC).

You are required to register with JAMPRO in order to be recognised as a commercial exporter. The initial cost of registration is $3,500, and this is valid for only one year. The annual cost for renewal is $3,000, which must be paid up on or before the expiry date of your registration.

If you intend to export personal items or to make only one shipment, it is recommended that you employ the services of a customs broker or freight forwarder instead of registering as an exporter. For further information or to register online, please visit jExporter. Registration is also facilitated at JAMPRO’s offices in Kingston and Montego Bay.

Export licences are required for some products, especially those of agricultural/animal origin. For general information on export licences, please consult with the Trade Board (http://www.tradeboard.gov.jm). For specific product information, please contact the relevant ministry/agency identified below:

  • Veterinary Services Division, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries - Apicultural/bee products, animal, animal by-products or seafood
  • Coconut Industry Board – Coconut products
  • Coffee Industry Board – Coffee products

You may also contact the Jamaica Customs Department for a complete listing of goods that are conditionally prohibited from export and/or require export permits (or similar export authorisations), and the government departments and agencies responsible for issuing the permits.

What key factors should I consider before exporting?

The development of a detailed and thorough strategy is an important part of the planning process for export. The key considerations in developing such a strategy include:

  • Evaluating your product’s export potential and readiness
  • Determining if you are fully prepared to make a commitment to international markets
  • Identifying the main foreign markets for your products through market research
  • Evaluating distribution and promotional options and establishing an overseas distribution system
  • Determining export prices, payment terms and other essential business practices
  • Acquiring knowledge of shipping methods, export documentation procedures, export financing, and other requirements for exporting.

JAMPRO’s Export Promotion specialists are available to assist you in assessing your company’s export potential.

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