Thu | Jul 16, 2020

ECLAC to correct FDI data on Jamaica

Published:Tuesday | July 17, 2018 | 12:00 AMMcPherse Thompson/ Assistant Editor - Business
Audley Shaw, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries, speaks to the audience at the Jamaica Investment Forum hosted by Jampro in June. Jampro president Diane Edwards is seated at right.

Amid pushback from Jamaica's trade officials, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, ECLAC, now says its data on Jamaica's foreign direct investment flows was preliminary and would be updated.

Last week, Minister of Industry, Investment, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries Audley Shaw contested the US$649-million FDI estimate published by ECLAC, a UN regional agency. Instead, Shaw cited a later World Investment Report, which is also a product of the United Nations, with a much higher estimate.

ECLAC's estimate was off by nearly US$240 million.

Reached for comment on the disparity, ECLAC told the Financial Gleaner its 2017 estimate was preliminary and the information would be updated in a forthcoming publication.

In a briefing paper published earlier this month, ECLAC said FDI flows to Jamaica fell for the second consecutive year, and was 17.8 per cent lower than the US$790 million recorded in 2016.

Shaw subsequently noted in a statement that Jamaica attracted FDI inflows of US$888 million in the 2017 calendar year, based on the World Investment Report 2018 published by UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, in June.

In the statement Jamaica's trade and investment promotions agency, Jampro said the US$888 million figure was more in line with the flows recorded by Bank of Jamaica and the Trade and Investment Department at UNCTAD.

Shaw said the US$649 million FDI flows ECLAC reported was based on preliminary figures and official estimates, rather than final figures published by the BOJ in May 2018 as part of the country's 2017 balance of payment accounts.

"We are aware of the difference in the data and it is the case that our figures were very preliminary. We will update the information for Jamaica in our publication, The Economic Survey of the Caribbean," Deputy Chief at ECLAC, Dillon Alleyne, said in an emailed response to the Financial Gleaner about the variation in the data.


Decline in FDI inflows


Shaw said the World Investment Report noted a 4.3 per cent decline in FDI inflows relative to 2016, but said Jamaica showed resiliency in 2017 and has continued to attract the highest value of reported greenfield projects in the small island developing states group.

In addition, the report shows that Jamaica's 4.3 per cent decline is within the context of global FDI flows falling by 23 per cent in 2017 to US$1.43 trillion.

"Like many other developing countries, Jamaica has been negatively affected by the global decrease in FDI, but we have remained fairly stable for 2017 and we are still in the top two SIDS receiving diverse FDI inflows. We are optimistic that Jamaica will continue to grow and attract significant investments going forward, and we are motivated by major projects already announced by investors such as Karisma, Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company-Alpart bauxite refinery and the Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited," he said.

Going forward, Jampro will be working with ECLAC to present the final numbers recorded by the BOJ, including for the upcoming Economic Survey of the Caribbean.

"We realised that the figures used are based on ECLAC's methodology and the timing of their report, which requires them to use preliminary figures. By partnering with ECLAC on future reports the organisation will be able to present the full picture of the country's FDI performance and trends," Jampro President Diane Edwards said in the statement.

BOJ has not weighed in on the correct data, despite requests for comment.