Realising untapped export potentialFriday, May 01, 2020
BY ABBION ROBINSON
President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) Diane Edwards says there is more than US$61 million in untapped international export opportunities across the main metropolitan markets for Jamaican businesses.
According to her, Jampro's export strategy during and after COVID-19 includes helping businesses to realise prime export potentials in the markets of health care and wellness, agriculture/agribusiness, services, and manufacturing sectors.
“Jampro is really your partner in expanding your business. We are going to be working together with importers in all those markets to help you find the right ones for your products. We will advocate and lobby the Government for land to be made available to farmers and promote the use of and increase more private investments in agro-parks,” Edwards declared recently in a Export Matters webinar.
She added that the strategy also includes lobbying for the removal of duties and fees for e-commerce, developing a national digital services strategy, and increasing business facilitation and matchmaking services with buyers.
Jampro's European regional manager, Laurence Jones, also indicated that there is a demand for a range of Jamaican food products due to the growing taste for Jamaican cuisine among the Caribbean Diaspora and mainstream British consumers.
“Roots and tubers currently account for US$4 million in exports but have the potential to reach US$12 million. Sauces and condiments export have increased with significant growth, increasing from US$2 million in 2015 to US$3 million in 2018, but there is an additional US$1 million of untapped demand. Coffee and tea exports currently account for US$1 million, but has the potential to reach US$3 million in exports to the UK,” he said.
He added that British consumers are seeking healthier and convenient foods and encouraged Jamaican manufacturers of ready meals to consider producing vegan foods that can be branded as traditional Jamaican, ital cuisine.
“We have observed a consistent and growing demand for Jamaican cosmetic and beauty products as well as over-the-counter drugs. Jamaican brands such as Irie Rock and Benjamins currently export to the UK, however there is significant untapped potential for products such as Jamaican black castor oil,” Jones stated.
The Government in an effort to emphasise its commitment to removing export barriers, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, has cut export-related fees and charges by 50 per cent, effective April 1.
State Minister for Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green indicated that the reduction will enable more businesses to tap into the export market and boost Jamaica's competitiveness internationally.
“We're talking about $100 million in fees that they would normally be paying that would now be in those companies to go back into other forms of innovation, to ensure that they continue to be competitive. It is a significant shot in the arm, especially for our manufacturers and our agro-processors, and I think this will augur well for our export numbers, especially after we get through this COVID-19 crisis,” he stated.
The 50 per cent reduction will impact agricultural commodities, including coffee, cocoa, spice, and coconut licensing fees.
Edwards also acknowledged and praised the Government for its response to the crisis.
“There is life after COVID-19. A lot of people accuse me of being too optimistic, but I'm not going to apologise for that because I think it is how we believe, manufacture, and mould our energies towards the solutions that come from this crisis period – that's what's going to take us through,” Edwards said.