Mon | May 20, 2019

Ecuador pitches grocery imports to Jamaicans

Published:Thursday | October 25, 2018 | 1:46 PMSteven Jackson

 

Jamaican companies import millions of dollars worth of canned fish from big trading nations such as the United States and China, while largely ignoring Ecuador, the second largest producer of canned tuna and shrimp, a Ecuadorean technocrat said Thursday.

The pitch comes as trade officials in Jamaica and Ecuador are working to negotiate a bilateral trade deal to remove any remaining barriers and increase trade between the two nations.

“We export chips, gas stoves, and so on, to Jamaica but it does not answer the real potential. Our trade flow is US$3 million a year in exports to Jamaica and imports are about US$600,000 to Ecuador,” said Marlon Banegas Andrade, trade commissioner of Ecuador in Cuba who spoke at a forum hosted by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce in Kingston.

Jamaican businesses buy from global centres, which are at times dominated by traders rather than producers, said Banegas Andrade.

Pro Ecuador, a state agency which promotes trade in that country, launched an e-commerce site this year and Banegas Andrade encouraged businesses to chat and negotiate with businesses in his country on ‘proecuador.gob.ec’ to evaluate opportunities.  

Jamaica and Colombia have a fortified trade agreement which represents one of a growing number of agreements with non-traditional trading nations.

“But we don’t have something similar with Ecuador but we can push it,” said Jamaica Chamber CEO Trevor Fearon. “We see a lot of potential outside of traditional markets. We have to look at markets like Ecuador in the region.”

Fearon added that bilateral agreements will occur if the Government knows there is interest from the business community.

Banegas Andrade said that Ecuador was the second largest supplier of canned tuna and also shrimp. But Jamaica imports canned tuna in the range of US$2.6 million from Thailand and US$250,000 from the US; it mainly buys shrimp from Canada at US$9.1 million, Poland at US$4.9 million and Thailand at some US$365,000.

Other import opportunities from Ecuador include vegetables, coffee, cocoa, pharmaceuticals, roses, and appliances.

The meeting was focused on imports, but some Jamaica Chamber members wanted to know more about export opportunities.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com