Jamaica has a brand that resonates all over the world, says Diane Edwards, president of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), the government agency that helps investors and exporters to realise the potential of business opportunities. “That recognition gives us a tremendous platform to leverage when taking our products into the world. Jamaica exports fantastic goods, such as fresh tropical fruits, processed foods and beverages, cosmetics and nutraceutical ingredients. We also export large amounts of bauxite, alumina and limestone;’ she reveals.
The agency provides a matchmaking service to connect companies worldwide with local businesses, Edwards explains, “We find the right markets for our exporters, the right Jamaican products for international importers and the right partners for investment projects:’ Jamaica offers attractive options for investors across a wide spectrum of activities. “We’re expecting high growth in areas such as tourism, where there is an opportunity for luxury hospitality brands from the Middle East. Another is our thriving business-process outsourcing sector, which now employs 44,000 people;’ she notes.
One industry that is full of possibilities is logistics, Edwards asserts: “Jamaica can be the logistics centre of the Caribbean. Ships from China that travel through the Panama Canal to the eastern seaboard of the US have to pass by our country. In addition, we have the most modern port in the region, which can handle post-panamax vessels:’ With the Caribbean currently importing 85 per cent of its food, she also highlights agriculture and food manufacturing as profitable investment sectors. There is potential in the island’s renowned creative industries as well, with Jamaica boasting a wealth of talent in areas like music, film, animation and fashion.
Two other sectors that should appeal to Middle Eastern investors are infrastructure and renewable energy, Edwards says: ”About 13 per cent of our energy is delivered by renewables today, but our ambition is to increase that to 30 per cent by 2030. We are looking for new sources of solar, wind, geothermal or waste-generated energy, and the government will publish a request for proposal by early next year:’
Another of JAMPRO’s roles is to help optimise the business environment in a country that already welcomes investors with many incentives. For example, the World Bank rates it as the sixth-best place to start a business, there are no restrictions on foreign ownership of assets or the repatriation of profits, while its stock exchange is high performing and very active.
JAMPRO wants to go further and is now implementing its Business Environment Reform Agenda to review and revise an extensive range of laws and regulations. “One of the major things weve achieved so far is a Priority Projects Bill that allows large-scale investments to be fast-tracked. We’ve also launched the National Business Portal, which will facilitate multiple business-to-government transactions in one online location. This programme is intended to catapult Jamaica into the top 10 of the World Bank Doing Business overall rankings, and is a demonstration of how dedicated we are to making life easy for businesses and investors;’ she enthuses.