The Japan Times rates Jamaica as best place to do business in the Caribbean

The Japan Times rates Jamaica as best place to do business in the Caribbean

Newspaper cites country's strategic location, connectivity among several factors for appraisal

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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The Japan Times in one of its recent publications listed Jamaica as “The best place to do business in the Caribbean”.

The article looked at Jamaica's recent economic turnaround, conducive business environment as well as its “strategic location, connectivity, natural resources” and “cultural status” as factors which have enhanced its attractiveness to investors.

The report quotes several key figures including the president of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro), Diane Edwards; Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw and Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, who all gave their insights into the factors which have led to an improved business environment in Jamaica.

The Japan Times noted that apart from naming Jamaica as the best Caribbean country for doing business, the World Bank rates the island nation as sixth globally in terms of starting a business.

This environment has already led to an influx of Japanese businesses with Bartlett noting that “Japanese companies have already invested in, for example, our tourism, energy and automotive sectors. We would welcome further collaborations with Japan.”

Bartlett also described Jamaica's world renowned brand as a “global cultural symbol” and the article attributed this to “the creativity of Jamaicans, who have shaped the world's music, sport, film and other industries”.

In commenting on the World Bank's rating, Edwards pointed out that “our investment climate is very liberal. Foreigners are allowed to own land, repatriate all profits, we have no exchange control, have double-taxation and investment-protection treaties with 12 countries including Japan and offer excellent incentives”.

Edwards in the The Japan Times article also cited the attractiveness of a growing economy, exports that have risen by 43 per cent to $1.3 billion in 2018, more than $6 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) over the last decade and a 24 per cent rise in business confidence.

“Our mantra has been fiscal prudence,” the publication quoted Edwards as saying. “We have brought our debt-to-GDP ratio down by 36 per cent to 96 per cent and plan to get it to 60 per cent within five years.”

Edwards said Jamaica's advantageous position at the crossroads of North, South and Central America, whose combined markets total 800 million consumers, plus the fact that the island boasts one of only two ports in the Caribbean with a capacity for the world's largest ships allows “Jamaica to boost its position as a global hub for logistics and other industries”.

The publication acknowledged what it termed as the abundance of natural resources in Jamaica in terms of mining, valuable mineral reserves, agriculture and an agricultural manufacturing sector that accounts for 15 per cent of GDP. Increasing demand for the “flavours of Jamaica” is driving the growth of export markets for this sector according to Shaw, and Edwards underlined the fact that the island's products, such as ginger, cocoa, pimento and coffee are considered to be world class.

The future is ushering in greater diversification in agriculture through new crops and “along the value chain of the sugar that makes its famous rums”.

The Jampro president also made special mention of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry noting that Jamaica, which has the third-largest English-speaking population in the western hemisphere, was an attractive destination for international businesses involved in this industry.

She indicated that 60 global companies have been enticed to the country's $400-million BPO sector and named Conduit, IBM and Xerox among those who have made the move to Jamaica.

— Alexis Monteith

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