PM challenges manufacturers as Expo 2014 opens
JAMAICAN manufacturers have been urged to re-energise the sector and start exporting more to help move the economy forward.
"We need more manufacturers to start exporting again. No economy can grow and prosper without a robust and active export sector," the prime minister told Thursday's opening of Expo Jamaica 2014 — the country's biennial premier trade event — at the National Arena in Kingston.
Some 600 local and international buyers are participating in this year's staging of the event, which is being held under the theme: "The Business Hub of the Caribbean".
The event is a collaboration between the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) and the Jamaica Exporters' Association.
"Achieving the growth that we need will require that we activate dormant exporters; expand our production base and enable new entrepreneurs in the export sector," she added.
Simpson Miller stated that the logistic hub concept was one of the central pillars of Government's plans for economic development, but indicated that the export and manufacturing sector have a vital role to play in the development of the country's economy.
At the same time, she said it was imperative for the country to remain focused on export certification, capacity building and compliance with international export regulations in order to extend the country's reach to non-traditional markets.
Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton, in supporting the prime minister's call for a revival of the manufacturing sector to boost exports, said that an export-led growth strategy was one of the fundamental pillars of Government's growth inducement strategy to overcome the country's weak economic performance and integrate Jamaica into the global economy.
Hylton, while welcoming a delegation from Venezuela, which was a part of the international buyers from countries such as the United States, Canada, India, Nigeria, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Norway, urged Jamaican exporters to utilise the Trade Compensation Mechanism of the PetroCaribe Agreement, which provides the opportunity for signatories to settle their oil debt through the export of goods and/or services. "It behoves Jamaican exporters to position their companies to benefit under this aspect of the PetroCaribe Agreement," he said.
JMA President Brian Pengelley, meanwhile, said that the country's manufacturers were committed to growing the nation's economy, but required a prosperous environment that is on a level playing field.
He also urged Government to carefully address the issue of the pending application of the non-refundable additional consumption tax to be charged on imports at the ports and the classification of manufacturing, which he said, could threaten the livelihood of the manufacturing sector.
"We cannot afford for these issues to negatively affect our export and manufacturing sectors at this point in time," he said.