Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Audley Shaw on Thursday highlighed the orange economy as an area of opportunity to diversify Jamaica's economy and, as a result, called on the private sector to increase investment in local creative entrepreneurs. The orange economy refers to the creative and cultural industries.
In his remarks at the Corporate Linkages Media Briefing on Trade in Cultural Goods, Shaw likened the orange economy to a seed that needs to be planted and nurtured for growth to be realised.
“In every crisis there's a seed of greater benefit — find it, sow it, nurture it, and watch it grow. Sowing and nurturing the rich cultural history that we have and formalising it in the way that we are proposing is an excellent example of how we can create an opportunity out of crisis,” the minister encouraged.
Pointing to a 2015 UNESCO-commissioned report that showed the orange economy employing 29.5 million people globally and generating US$2.25 trillion in revenues, Shaw said he believed that since then and with onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic that contribution has improved significantly.
“...As businesses closed and and new avenues were explored for employment and income, the creative industries have flourished, with many hobbies becoming full-blown ventures. Additionally, market access is being fuelled by the improved availability of technology in many areas of the world, another positive by-product of the pandemic,” he continued.
Locally, the film industry — a subsector of the orange economy — contributed to 47 unique productions last year, adding US$236 million to the overall economy and creating 876 jobs. However, Shaw believes more can be done.
“With an uptick in interest in the Jamaican film industry comes an uptick in investment opportunities,” he stated, adding that animation and digital media represent “key potential for economic transformation”.
Shaw also noted the need for more studio infrastructure outside of the major commercial centres.
With this in mind, the minister of industry and commerce called on business interests to use more local talent, carefully consider proposals from local creative business owners and provide financing where necessary. He argued further that the creative industry is less volatile and, therefore, less risky when compared to businesses that depend on trade in commodities.
Supporting this view, Shaw said that Jamaica has signatory to several treaties that will protect the intellectual property rights of artists and other creatives. Moreover, the Government has entered into partnerships that will foster cooperation between industry stakeholders in Jamaica and other parts of the world, including the Cotonou Agreement.
Another such partnership he identified was the Cultural and Creative Industires Innovation Fund, which the Caribbean Development Bank manages.
Shaw also underscored the Government's support of even more ventures in the orange economy and noted: “The team of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and agengies under my watch stand ready to support our entrepreneurs as well as our cultural and creative ambassadors as they take advatage of emerging opportunities in national regional and global markets to trade in cultural goods and services.”