JMEA tracks MGS as it pushes to deliver on national output
Simara Howell (left), executive director of the JMEA, responds toquestions from journalists at a recent business forum held by theJamaica Observer at its Beechwood Avenue offices in Kingston.Beside her is John Mahfood, new president of the JMEA.

THE Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), in its quest to drive increased output from the sector over the next few years, said it has been consistently tracking and taking the requisite steps needed to deliver on the objectives of the national manufacturing growth strategy (MGS) as espoused by the Government.

The MGS, crafted as one of the initiatives to be rolled out by Government, seeks to orchestrate economic recovery from the novel coronavirus pandemic with the aim of achieving $81 billion annually in manufacturing output by 2025.

Current output from the sector up to the end of 2020 was $63 billion — a 5.4 per cent decrease when compared to 2019. The Government wants the manufacturing sector to reverse that decline and instead boost output by close to 30 per cent by 2025.

Immediate past president of the JMEA Richard Pandohie, following the tabling of the strategy last year, said that over 65 per cent of this output was expected to come from the association's members, given their current contributions. He said that if the correct enabling environment was provided and the right investment opportunities unlocked and obstacles reduced in the industry, it was possible for this growth to be stimulated.

Executive director of the JMEA Simara Howell, during a recent Jamaica Observer Business Forum, said that the organisation has remained committed to the mandate and was bullish in delivering on the expected outcomes.

“We are busy at it. We are one year into the strategy which was passed last year July and we are mindful of the five years that we need to achieve certain things, and the JMEA is going full speed ahead with that. Hopefully, for this five-year plan and for the first time when it comes to a strategy in the country we will, if not yet there, be pretty close to it,” she stated

“What we have been doing so far in terms of key initiatives is to work on building out a framework and an implementation plan that will facilitate an effective roll-out of the strategy,” Howell also told the Jamaica Observer.

She cited the development of some requisite skill sets needed in the sector and greater use of technology and e-commerce, especially in light of the challenges brought on by the pandemic, as critical components needed for a timely delivery of the strategy.

“With the MGS, the JMEA is seeking to fill out the existing gaps by providing service that can enrich the sector,” she added.

Howell said the strategy which stemmed from a joint partnership with the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) has also sought after greater partnerships by liaising with other entities such as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and international partners — including the International Trade Centre — to provide the required capacity building.

The manufacturing sector, which now contributes 9.1 per cent of Jamaica's gross domestic product (GDP), has seen significant declines over the last few decades. The JMEA in its quest to produce and export more has therefore been actively leading the charge as it urges its member companies to fulfill this objective.

“We don't have the kind of environment that causes big companies to want to come here; hence, we have to look at our own manufacturers now and let them know that the time is right in terms of interest rates, the economy and other things, and look at how we can grow the sector with what we have,” commented the association's newly elected President John Mahfood, who was also a guest at the forum.

HOWELL...we are busy at it, weare one year into the strategywhich was passed last year July,and we are mindful of the fiveyears that we need to achievecertain things and the JMEA isgoing full speed ahead with that(Photos: Joseph Wellington)
BY KELLARAY MILES Observer business reporter

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