Two leading figures at Mayberry Investments, CEO Gary Peart and Executive Chairman Christopher Berry, are calling for a policy shift as a means of encouraging Jamaica to build an export-oriented economy.
Speaking at the company's monthly Investors' Forum on Wednesday, Peart urged the Government to implement the necessary policy changes needed to stimulate the country's export sector, pointing out that services represent approximately 75 per cent of Jamaica's economy, while the production of goods accounts for only 25 per cent. Against this background, Peart argued that the country would benefit greatly from focusing on export-led growth, as well as services.
According to him, “The Government can incentivise businessmen to partake more in the country's export sector, which will in turn increase foreign exchange and reduce the rate of depreciation.” The Mayberry CEO says that although the Government has made an effort to improve the sector, more can be done.
For his part, Berry contended that, while he understands the dynamics between the two, policies implemented by the Government will ultimately dictate the direction of the industry. “I think we definitely have policies that are going in the right direction which is pro-growth for Jamaica. But I think the growth that we are seeing is a direct reflection of the environment that you are trying to create as minister,” Berry argued.
He pointed to figures showing that Jamaica's total exports amounted to US$655.1 million for the period January-May 2021, a 25 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2020. The country's main exports partner is the United States, which accounts for 42 per cent of total exports. Other export partners include Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Russia, Germany, Iceland and Norway.
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, who also addressed the Investors' Forum, acknowledged the weight of policy changes but noted the importance of entrepreneurs investing in the industry. He mentioned that “the conditions that exist today are conducive to the production of goods. We can see how some of the companies involved in the production of goods are doing well”.
He went on to argue that the policymaker is only a part of the equation, pointing out that “our future is going to depend not only on the nature of the policymaking but also on the quality and risk-taking attitude of our entrepreneurs”.