Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Researcher calls for more exports to boost competitiveness

Published:Sunday | October 13, 2019 | 5:35 AM

Jamaica should redirect austerity savings towards ­spurring exports, which would improve competitiveness, according to a long-standing researcher for the Global Competitiveness Report, published by the World Economic Forum, or Weforum.

“I continue to urge the Government of Jamaica to channel more of the gains from public debt reduction towards capital expenditure for export development and targeted applied research,” said Dr William Lawrence, who recently retired from the Mona School of Business & Management.

Williams is credited as a lead researcher on Jamaica for this year’s edition of the report published annually by the Switzerland-based think tank. The data on Jamaica was compiled by the Mona School of Business for Weforum.

Jamaica ranked 80 in the global study of 141 nations in the 2019 report. The year before, it ranked 79 among 140 nations.

However, Williams said the country’s individual global competitiveness score, or GCS, actually improved by 0.04 percentage points to 58.3 per cent. Jamaica’s slippage was due to the re-entry of Barbados, which did not participate in the previous report. Barbados re-­entered the rankings at No. 77 with a score of 58.9 per cent.“The GCS score recorded for Barbados is attributed mainly to healthcare and ICT adoption,” Williams said.

The researcher, in a previous discussion on last year’s report, said that between 1982 and 2017, Jamaica’s manufacturing and mining sectors together accounted for 63 per cent of total economic growth but that both sectors had been declining since 1982.

“These findings imply that a review of government policies and private-business strategies is needed to turn around the ­absolute contributions of traditional sectors to total GDP while the country explores new opportunities,” he said at the time.

Jamaica´s three weakest competitiveness pillars remain innovation capability; market size, which takes exports into account; and ICT adoption, Williams said.

Its best pillars included its labour market at 27 and business dynamism at 33. The most problematic areas were its market size, which received a subrank of 126, due to relatively low GDP; macroeconomic stability at 110, due to debt dynamics; institutions at 91, which included homicide and organised crime.

Jamaica also ranked first in the world in terms of credit-gap percentage, which is a measurement of the growth in domestic credit deployed to the private sector as a percentage of GDP.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com