Harvard Business Review to report on Jamaica's FDI attractiveness

Harvard Business Review to report on Jamaica's FDI attractiveness

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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JAMAICA'S attractiveness as a destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) could sink or swim with the upcoming publication of a report on its readiness by an influential business magazine.

International magazine Harvard Business Review (HBR) has recruited three international reporters to come to Jamaica to assess the country's ability to attract FDI over the next few years.

The magazine, a publication of the ivy league Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has a readership of more than 600,000 that includes highly placed business executives and decision-makers.

"We came to Jamaica to look at the transformations that have been taking place in the economy, the government, and of the country realising its vision 2030 goal," project coordinator from international communication agency World Investment News (WINNE), Emma Goldsmith, told the Jamaica Observer in an interview last Friday.

WINNE has partnered with HBR for the publication of in-depth economic reports of countries or regions around the world looking to attract FDI through economic development. When published, the report on Jamaica is expected to reach more than 600,000 readers globally.

Goldsmith, who has been in Jamaica with teammates Ernesto Diaz-Bastien and Simone Goldsmith over the past month, said Jamaica is the first Caribbean country to be economically reviewed by the magazine company.

She stated that Jamaica was awarded the review after being placed at the highest ranking in the Caribbean on the ease of doing business in the World Bank's Doing Business Report along with the passing of seven International Monetary Fund tests.

Concurrently, the planned visit of the United States President Barack Obama to Jamaica also presents an opportunity to communicate Jamaica's development to the international investment community, according to Goldsmith.

"Part of the inspiration comes from the fact that Jamaica's image overseas is often tarnished by the high crime rate, so we want to address that situation and to show that this is a country that's open for doing business more than ever before," she added.

So far, the researchers have discussed development plans with the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing.

Interviews have also been conducted with the private sector groups to thoroughly understand the country's growth strategies as well as the opportunities that are available, Goldsmith said.

"We have been learning a lot about the different sectors that are pillars for growth and the reform strategies that are taking place," she told the Business Observer.

"The North-South link highway presents great opportunities for the country, and the global logistics hub is certainly one of the major growth strategies. The Government seems to be putting in place special legislation that will create an ease for international partners looking to do business with Jamaica."

Under Jamaica's logistics hub programme, the Government anticipates that about 16 Special Economic Zones (SEZ) will be developed as trading and distribution hubs.

The SEZ Green Paper, which was recently tabled in Parliament, proposes a number of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to attract international businesses over the medium to long term, including a low corporate tax rate for qualified companies.

"Diane Edwards from JAMPRO certainly went into the different opportunities available here in Jamaica, especially in tourism and the business process outsourcing sector which is certainly something important to foreign investors," Goldsmith stated.

Jamaica is in close proximity to US with English speaking, highly trained individuals that can create more competitive businesses for international investors, according to the reporter.

"I believe the SEZ initiative is a big influence for investors looking in but we are not clear on what the fiscal and non-fiscal incentives will be for investors, so the Government needs to continue working on that," she added. The reporters are expected to conclude their research over the next three weeks.

HBR is a wholly owned publication of the Harvard Business School. It is considered a general management magazine that focuses mainly on management techniques and is read by senior corporate and financial decision- makers.

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