We are ready for regional exports — JMEA president

We are ready for regional exports — JMEA president

Business reporter

Friday, June 05, 2020

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The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) says based on the growing need for more exports across the Caribbean, the productive sector stands ready to supply outside markets and replace imports where necessary.

According to JMEA President Richard Pandohie, with the decline in domestic demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, local exporters have not only sought alternate markets, but have also managed to successfully tap into some of them.

“Exporters have not sat on their hands. In fact, preliminary data by Jamaica Customs show that exports by JMEA members have increased by more than seven per cent this year versus the same period in 2019. Exporters have been searching for opportunities in the region, in Central America, UK, and USA,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“Some of our members have had some great success during this period, especially those in the agro-processing sector because of high demand for natural food products,” he added.

Just recently local companies — Quality Incorporations Limited and Pioneer Manufacturing Distribution — made significant breakthroughs when they shipped large volumes of tissue and bleach, respectively, to outside markets in the US, Cayman Islands and Dominican Republic.

Pandohie said that the JMEA, which regularly attends Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) meetings — a regional forum where member states discuss matters related to trade and development — is currently in dialogue on the issue of increasing intra-regional trade across member countries.

“At the 50th COTED meeting held in April of this year, there were many requests by member states to suspend the Common External Tariff on a variety of goods, several of which can be supplied by Jamaican producers. We have shared our producers information with the member states for their review and we are hoping that this will allow for increased inter-regional trade to replace some of the imports to the region,” he said.

The JMEA president, in lamenting the existing challenges, underscored the need for more support to be given to the productive sector.

“Export in the productive sector has not be taken seriously. Lots of people claim to recognise that manufacturing and export are critical to our economy but their actions, or lack thereof, tell a different story,” he said.

“If, at this time, when our economy has truly been laid bare and fully exposed, we cannot get any traction behind the productive sector and export now, then I am afraid we never will,” he told Caribbean Business Report.

Eralier this week, Floyd Green, minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, commended local companies that have been making significant strides in export markets, regionally and abroad.

He said amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, several Jamaican companies have managed to to penetrate regional markets; trading for the first time within a number of Caribbean countries.

He noted that during the course of this month companies such as Spur Tree Spices, Boss Furniture, and Jamaica Teas are also expected to make shipments across the region based on a rise in demand for their products.

“Over 10 companies have upcoming export orders to fulfil for the months of June/July in these major regions,” Green said.

He also congratulated local manufacturers for seeing the value in increasing exports and helping to dismantle some of the barriers to trade in the region, noting that “one of the most satisfying parts of these new trade operations is that over the last three months a significant amount of local products has replaced existing imported products in the domestic market. We have managed to replace hand sanitiser gel, rubbing alcohol, hard surface cleaner, hand washing soap, and bleach with locally produced products.”

He further tasked organisations such as Jamaica Promotions Corporation and the JMEA to continue seeking out new markets.

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