Sun | Dec 11, 2016

'Exports key to overcoming Jamaica's developmental problems', says Williams

Published:Sunday | September 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Former Governor General Professor Sir Kenneth Hall (left) and Anthony Hylton (centre), minister of industry, commerce and investment, join Professor Densil Williams, executive director of the Mona School of Business and Management, at his inaugural lecture at the UWI Mona campus last week. - Contributed

Densil Williams, professor of international business and executive director of the Mona School of Business and Management, has pointed to exports as the key to helping small, open economies like Jamaica overcome their developmental problems.

Williams was delivering his inaugural professorial lecture titled "Beyond the Epistemology: International Business as a Development Tool for Small Economies" to a packed room of academics, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and students at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

The inaugural professorial lecture has the broad aim of promoting and celebrating the academic reputation of newly appointed and newly promoted professorial academic staff.

According to Williams, he strongly believes that if Jamaica is to reverse its anaemic growth performance, it cannot merely solve its fiscal problems and focus on the domestic market.

"To deliver long-run sustainable growth, Jamaica has to engage in international business in a significant way," said Williams.

He noted that a comparison of Singapore's and Jamaica's growth performance since the 1960s will show that export-led growth was instrumental in moving Singapore ahead of Jamaica.

"Jamaica's average growth rate since the 1960s is about 0.8 per cent. Other similar countries like Barbados and Singapore have average growth rates of around 2.4 and 7.2 per cent, respectively," noted Williams

SINGAPORE HAS DONE WELL

"These countries all started out with similar socio-economic conditions to that of Jamaica when the independence movement in colonial countries took shape in the 1960s. Today, their growth performance, especially that of Singapore, is vastly superior to Jamaica's," added Williams.

He noted that Singapore had done well, in part, because it engaged significantly with the global economy.

Williams also provided insights into how smaller firms could participate effectively in the export sector.

He pointed out that "these smaller firms make up the majority of businesses in the Jamaican economy, and so if they are excluded from the export sector, it will mean a significant loss in the opportunity to grow the Jamaican economy in a substantial way".

The recently promoted professor also noted that getting the owners of these smaller firms to have a global mindset and not become comfortable with making money only from their domestic operation would go a far way in moving the export agenda of the small business sector forward.