Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Foreign Direct Investments rise to US$794m in Jamaica

Published:Friday | June 24, 2016 | 6:00 AMSteven Jackson
Diane Edwards, president of Jampro.

Jamaica increased its foreign direct investments (FDI) to US$794 million in 2015, which equates to the second-largest flows in the grouping of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), according to the World Investment Report released this week by Unctad, a United Nations body.

The FDI to Jamaica represents a 34 per cent annual rise in inflows due mainly to investments in hotels and call centres. It comes as most other major Caribbean islands registered FDI declines.

"Jamaica, by contrast, made a huge leap by attracting 14 announced greenfield investment projects with a value of US$1.4 billion, compared with the annual average of US$600 million in six projects in 2012-2014. Nearly 40 per cent of announced greenfield investment in all SIDS (US$3.7 billion in 51 projects) went to this country, thanks primarily to capital investment plans by US multinational enterprises in hotels and customer contact centres," said the Unctad report.

Trinidad & Tobago received the highest FDIs among the SIDS at US$1.6 billion, down 35 per cent, due to its heavy reliance on gas investments currently in a downturn. Unlike Trinidad, Jamaica's FDI portfolio is more diversified and depends more on the services sector, said the report.

Diane Edwards, president of Jampro, an agency of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, welcomed Jamaica's performance saying that the figures reflect the island's improving investment climate.

"We have definitely seen an increase in investor interest in Jamaica that has been steadily rising for the past few years," Edwards said in a release. "This interest has certainly been stimulated by the improvements in the economy and doing business rankings. Investors look at the whole picture, and they see that Jamaica has been gaining in competitiveness and overall business friendliness. It is now up to us to accelerate this progress and to ensure that Jamaica continues to improve our timelines in delivery of all business approvals."

Edwards said Jampro will seek to advance the business environment through the National Competitiveness Council, and improve Jamaica's business brand.

"There is more confidence in Jamaica now more than ever from local and international investors. JAMPRO will take advantage of these developments to ensure that we continue the upward trend in investments into 2017 and beyond," she added.

Overall, FDI flows to 10 Caribbean SIDS contracted by 37 per cent to US$3.6 billion, mainly due to declines in Trinidad, Bahamas and Barbados.

FDI flows into the Bahamas tumbled by 76 per cent from US$1.6 billion in 2014 to US$385 million in 2015, the lowest in 13 years.

The problem for The Bahamas related to declines in tourism projects and equity investments. This decline allowed Jamaica to rank second among SIDS. FDI flows into Barbados fell by 48 per cent to US$254 million but the report offered no explanation for the decline.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com