Master of Ceremonies;
Custos Rotulorum, The Hon. Ewen Corrodus;
Mr. Nathan Robb, President of The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce & Industry and other members of the MBCCI Board;
Other distinguished guests and members of the media;
Ladies and gentlemen:
As chairman of JAMPRO, I welcome this opportunity to address you
on the occasion of the launch of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce & Industry's Expo 2013 - your 15th staging. I am always happy to be in your city, but particularly for events such as this. Commendations are therefore in order for the Montego Bay Chamber for consistently staging a quality trade Exposition that encourages business activities between suppliers and buyers in various key industries in Jamaica.
Coming on the heals of the successfully staged
5th Biennial Diaspora Conference, which had an overarching theme of business, investment and trade, I share your expectation that Expo 2013 will facilitate new and exciting business partnerships that will ultimately redound to the economic benefit of the city of Montego Bay, the parish of Saint James, and our island Jamaica.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to leave one central message
with you this morning and it is this - "Jamaica does not have the luxury of time". We need to get our act together rather quickly, on a variety of fronts, if we are to earn our way out of our present economic woes.
One of those fronts is the "Logistics Hub" project, blessed by the Prime Minister and under the direction of the hon. Anthony Hylton, Minister of industry, investment & commerce, as the centerpiece of the Government's "Growth Agenda".
The great thing about the Logistics Hub is that
it is not only a compelling business proposition, it is also one which has broad bi-partisan support. Speak to the Prime Minister, to the leader of the opposition, to Minister Hylton, to former Minister Mike Henry - they all see the great possibility ahead of us.
But in Jamaica we have a way of allowing
possibilities to remain just that - possibilities. We have to change our modus operandi and concentrate on implementation now! Minister Hylton has demonstrated that sense of urgency as the Government searches for ways and means to drive resources to towards the development of the Logistics Hub.
We in the private sector must do our part.
Look at the component parts of the Logistics Hub, see if you can fit in, if you cannot do it alone get partners local and\or foreign. Do not allow the opportunity to pass!
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no shortage of
investment interest in Jamaica, but the nature of investment interest is that it also has simultaneous interest in other jurisdictions which compete with Jamaica. If another jurisdiction makes it easier for investment interest to do business; if that jurisdiction makes it easier for them to obtain the necessary permits approvals; if that jurisdiction offers lower energy costs; if that jurisdiction offers a safer environment; in short, if that jurisdiction is more competitive when compared with Jamaica, then the likelihood is that the investment interest will lose interest in Jamaica and head towards that competing jurisdiction.
So we have
We have to short circuit the bureaucracy
not only for foreign direct investment but also for local direct investment. I am tired of saying that if we look after ourselves, we will look after our foreign partners!
To the extent that for local investors we bring efficiency to
our bureaucracy (almost a contradiction in terms) we benefit the foreign investor; to the extent that we reduce crime and increase the security of the ordinary Jamaican, we do the same for our visitors both tourists and investors; to the extent that we are a more caring society in keeping with the Christian values we say we espouse, we become more attractive to skilled migrants who wish to make Jamaica their home; to the extent that we reduce energy costs for Jamaican businesses and people, we become more attractive to foreign investors and enable them to set up more competitive businesses in Jamaica.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have said elsewhere that
you will see a far more aggressive JAMPRO as we seek to support our local and foreign investors and to sell Jamaica as an investment destination. Government too must become more aggressive, mindful of the fact that time is not on our side.
We have to concentrate far more on implementation to
complement the excellent selling job that we do. You would have noticed that I referred to the 5th biennial diaspora conference as "successfully staged". That was deliberate, as I tell my entire team at JAMPRO that our selling events are not truly successful until we convert a meaningful number of the interests to actual investments.
That is one of the reasons I say we cannot do things
the same way, even if we are doing them more quickly. We have to think differently, we have to act differently, and we have to innovate! For example, I remember suggesting to a previous Prime Minister that definitive time periods should not only apply to applicants for development approval, but also to the Government ministries and agencies which must review their applications. I suggested that, if an applicant's application meets all the requirements of the law but is not adjudicated on within 90 days, the application should be deemed approved by the relevant agency. This is not a novel idea. I heard it from a colleague attorney-at-law in a jurisdiction in which it obtains.
We have to be bold if we wish to
be serious and if we acknowledge that time is not on our side.
Ladies and gentlemen, JAMPRO will do its part.
We have a tremendous amount of responsibility and zero authority. We cannot grant permits or approvals, but we can forge alliances. So since I became chairman a concerted reach out to our partners has been made - the parish councils, NEPA, the private sector, the UDC and we will do more. We will build the relationships necessary to work more closely with them to deliver for our clients. I have mandated JAMPRO's team to get to know the corresponding leadership within our partners' organisations and to build an extremely close, complementary working relationship. Within our remit, JAMPRO will aggressively do its part! Jamaica does not have time! Together, I know that we can do this!
Now I have said elsewhere that crucial to quickly
moving the country forward is the notion of "planning big". In planning big, we must do two things. Firstly we must be unafraid of taking on big projects. This is a different world. Islands are being created. Here in Jamaica we appear to have lost our belief in self - that we are capable of doing big things! We want to "fix-up" Port Royal instead of re-creating, re-building "the Wickedest City on Earth" as a major tourist attraction.
Secondly, in planning big, we need to adhere to
standards that are higher than those set by our competitors in the world market. This issue of quality standards cannot be over-emphasised. Despite the many challenges that exist, it is incumbent on local producers to consistently meet and surpass international standards for quality, performance, quantity, reliability and delivery.
As it relates to quantity, reliability and delivery, it is
paramount that producers and suppliers position themselves to meet the demand of buyers in a timely manner. They must develop the requisite systems and fail-safes to ensure that they fulfill orders accurately and on time. Jamaica time is unacceptable in business. In my book, it should no longer be culturally acceptable! The marketplace does not tolerate mediocrity
Companies that do not compromise on quality and demonstrate excellent supply chain reliability will form stronger and more sustained business linkages with buyers.
Beyond achieving the levels of productivity to satisfy
the domestic market, the primary goal of Jamaican producers should be to expand production into key Export markets. We desperately need to earn foreign exchange. Profitable businesses earning Jamaican dollars only, should look to earning foreign exchange from overseas markets.
This, again, is in keeping with the ethos of
planning big, and embraces Jamaica's Export sector as critical component of the engine for national growth. Producers and suppliers must seek to sharpen their innovative edge and build on current successes by establishing a broad Export base that will generate revenue and contribute to unlocking the country's full economic potential.
Ladies and gentlemen, JAMPRO will do its part.
In fulfilling its mandate to stimulate, facilitate and promote the development of trade in key sectors of the economy, JAMPRO will continue to provide practical support.
That support consists of a wide range of
value-added services for existing and potential Exporters, with the aim of increasing their competitiveness and profitability. Those services include:
expert trade advice; (2)
assistance in becoming registered Exporters; (3)
obtaining vital market information through our business library; (4)
participating in select trade shows and market penetration activities; (5)
client servicing to Export businesses that are in the developmental stage; (6)
providing assistance in identifying areas for growth and the best way to achieve it; (7)
accessing technical assistance from various international donors; (8)
identifying sources of financing to facilitate developmental programmes; (9)
exposure to opportunity profiles for specific products; (10)
export readiness analysis; (11)
facilitating incoming buyer missions; (12)
provision of information on market trends; (13)
access to market analysis tools and data; (14)
back office services for Exporters, including internet access, conference and meeting facilities, printing and photocopying services; (15)
organising workshops for the Export community, focusing on improving the overall competitiveness of the Jamaican Export community through interactive sessions on crucial export business areas such as capacity building, market access, trade regulations, labeling, packaging and the Export development cycle; and, finally, (16)
facilitating business-to-business match- making through our jobs online portal as well as events which bring buyers and suppliers together, to forge new contracts - but note that for the website you must be a registered buyer or suppliers.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry if listing those services
seemed tedious, but I want you to know what we do. Oftentimes my team at JAMPRO is criticized, and that is good because we need to be kept on our toes. But I also need you to know how dedicated to the cause they are. How truly hard they work. How their dedication takes them beyond normal hours time and time again, across divisions and departments. How well they respond to my unreasonable demands, in the national interest.
Ladies and gentlemen, successive administrations have
been committed to fostering the most optimal conditions for doing business in order to achieve sustained economic development through trade and investment, ultimately resulting in an improved quality of life for all Jamaicans. Those same administrations have also been committed to strengthening our Export sector. Those same administrations have been committed to the attraction of more local and foreign direct investment as critical to our chances of success. So we are agreed! If we are agreed, let's just get on with it. We know what to do. We do not need more studies, more consultants, more meetings. Just do it!!
In this regard, Jamaica's Logistics Hub initiative represents
a significant opportunity for investment in the new wave of Export-focused and high-value niche manufacturing. JAMPRO will be placing strategic focus on landing such manufacturing investment ventures, which include non-equity modes of international production. The proposed global transshipment and Logistics Hub will present opportunities for business interests to be integrated into the global supply chain, and this will be explored in greater detail at a panel discussion that is scheduled to take place during Expo 2013.
For the exhibitors who will be
taking part in Expo 2013, the event represents an excellent opportunity to showcase the best of brand Jamaica's products and services.
This can assist many of the participating companies,
as they seek to increase the awareness of their products and services and establish a strong home market presence. However, in order for these companies to experience greater growth and success in this regard, it is important for us as Jamaicans to support these producers of high quality brand Jamaica goods and services.
"Buy Jamaica, Build Jamaica" has long been the mantra of
Jamaican manufacturers, but perhaps at no other juncture in Jamaica's history has support by local consumers and institutional buyers been needed more to stimulate increased economic activity in the country. However, this appeal to buy local cannot simply be an emotional one. It must be predicated on the competiveness and superior quality of our products and services.
As for the buyers, I urge you to adopt a culture of
long-term thinking that will engender linkage-friendly policies and practices that will ultimately result in decreased procurement costs and a reduction in foreign exchange demand through import substitution.
It is my hope that Expo 2013 will facilitate meaningful interaction between suppliers and institutional buyers and foster increased exploration of complementarities that will lead to solid business relationships.
Ladies and gentlemen, in closing,
let me once again commend the Montego Bay Chamber for staging this important event, which is seamlessly aligned with JAMPRO's mandate to promote exports and develop local linkages.
I encourage participating producers and suppliers to make a consistent effort to provide high quality goods and services to meet the demand of buyers, and to also plan big for the Export market.
Remember, time is
Link to the Jampro Website: http://www.jamaicatradeandinvest.org