Exporters Urged to Seek New Opportunities

President of the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA), Andrew Collins, is urging exporters to continue searching for more opportunities in new and existing markets.

“We recognize that the best way to compete in an increasingly competitive international marketplace is by maintaining a competitive edge through innovation and diversification. So, we continue to encourage product and market diversification, especially in South America, Africa and China,” Mr. Collins told his fellow exporters at a breakfast forum, organized by the JEA on November 19, in Kingston.

He informed that the JEA representatives recently met with a company interested in taking Jamaican products to China and invited exporters who are interested in the Chinese market to speak with the association.

The JEA head further pointed out that there are opportunities for increased exports under the Petro Caribe Fund agreement, in Brazil and the Dominican Republic.

“We must also explore the opportunities for trade with the Dominican Republic and Brazil,” he advised. He informed that the Brazilian High Commissioner has been invited to address the sector’s annual general meeting in December to share some of the opportunities for trade with that country.

Mr. Collins said that maintaining a competitive export cost profile continues to be a challenge, and is a primary reason why the sector has to be given as much support as possible, especially if the country is committed to real growth through an integrated export led growth strategy.

Guest speaker at the forum, held under the theme, ‘Ensuring Infrastructural Development to Support Export Growth’, was the Chairman of the National Logistics Initiative (NLIC), Professor Gordon Shirley.

He noted that Jamaica’s development within the maritime sector is taking place within an environment of competition, and pointed out that several other countries in the region are developing port facilities and expanding their capacities to take advantage of current developments.

All of them, he said, are eager to take advantage of foreign direct investments, and that Jamaica is competing aggressively with them.

The CEO outlined several strengths of the Jamaican maritime sector, including a good geographic location, a first class container port, popular cruise shipping destination, established bulk sector and a bunkering station, good institutions and established regulatory authority.

He noted, however, that there are weaknesses which must be addressed. These include a bureaucratic system and complicated regulatory environment; perception of corruption and high crime jurisdiction; and costs facing exporters that their competitors do not have. He also cited natural hazards and rapid development of the sector in other Caribbean islands as possible threats.

Professor Shirley emphasized that the country has to take advantage of the opportunities and move ahead quickly to address the weaknesses, as it proceeds to develop the hub.

Published Date: 
Tuesday, November 19, 2013