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Jamaica’s Minister of Industry outlines support for manufacturing and export sectors

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Hon. Anthony Hylton, Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, has commended the manufacturing and export sectors for taking Brand Jamaica to the world at Expo Jamaica 2012 in spite of the many challenges, and has reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing the obstacles currently restricting growth in the sectors.

Speaking at the opening of Expo Jamaica at the National Arena on April 26, Minister Hylton indicated that the event represented the ongoing effort of the manufacturing and export sectors to strengthen their capacity in an environment that poses challenges but also holds opportunities. He noted that on the one hand, macroeconomic stability has been sustained with interest rates trending down and stable prices, while the global environment becomes increasingly more competitive.

“As Minister, I want to assure the industry that concerns have been heard and I am confident that through the tax reform initiative many of these will be addressed. It was only this week that I met with the leadership of the [Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association] and discussed their concerns regarding ongoing tax audits and other issues,” stated Minister Hylton.

He pointed out that the cost of energy continues to be a major concern for the sector and imposes significant constraints on the competitiveness of the sector, economic growth and employment.

From right: Denese Palmer of Southside Distributors Ltd. shows her products to Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Marlene Porter, JAMPRO’s export development manager, and Delaine Morgan, JAMPRO’s vice president of trade and business development at Expo Jamaica on April 27, 2012.

Minister Hylton also stated that ongoing initiatives and policies with respect to improving the business environment require enhancements in key infrastructure, leveraging cutting edge technology, as well as investments in improving the country’s human resources. He added that his Ministry is also concerned about the absence of a level playing field in CARICOM and other trading environments.

“It is an open secret that this has been a matter of serious concern for our manufacturers. Early indications are that there is a basis for fruitful dialogue on this and other matters with our CARICOM partners. However, I am on record as stating that I will not acquiesce to the further de-industrialisation of Jamaica. Equally, I have also said that it would be a serious mistake for anyone to believe that the solution to our challenges of building a viable export sector lies solely with CARICOM.”

As it relates to trading arrangements that cover manufacturing and trade in goods and services in global markets, Minister Hylton emphasised the importance of creating a balance in the negotiated benefits and burdens. He stated that is was the responsibility of government to organise its agencies and institutions to address obstacles to fair trade for the benefit of its economic actors.

Drew Gray (right) of Gray’s Pepper Products Ltd. greets Anthony Hylton (left), Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, while Brian Pengelley (2nd left), president of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), and Marlene Porter (2nd right), JAMPRO’s export development manager, look on at Expo Jamaica on April 27, 2012.

“As a consequence, the MIIC in charge of that responsibility will be embarking on an initiative to put in place a trade enforcement mechanism that seeks to harness the expertise resident in, the Trade Board, Fair Trading Commission, the Anti-Dumping and Subsidies Commission, Bureau of Standards, JAMPRO and JIPO to establish a modern and responsive enforcement mechanism be put at the disposal of our producers in order to bring about a level playing field,” said Minister Hylton.

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