Fri | Feb 23, 2018

US trade relations impacting full metrification

Published:Saturday | January 28, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The transition to full metrification across all areas of Jamaican society has been at a standstill for decades, primarily due to the United States' (US) adherence to the imperial system of measurement.

The US is Jamaica's main trading partner, with over 50 per cent of total trade.

Vivian Blake, former industry and commerce minister, made the first step towards having the Weight and Measures Act passed by the House of Representatives on March 24, 1976.

Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), the organisation responsible for establishing the infrastructure to facilitate the standards for measurement for the country, acknowledged the lengthy delay while highlighting the need to go fully metric.


Resistant to change


"Most of the world has gone metric, and for Jamaica to function in this global village, we must adapt to the relevant best practices. The fact that the US is resistant to change impacts how we can fully integrate the metric system in all areas of trade," Garfield Dixon, marketing and public relations manager at the BSJ, told The Gleaner.

He added: "Jamaicans have to be 'bi-lingual' in our understanding of measurements and be able to convert between metric and imperial as the situation requires."

When questioned by The Gleaner about the metric system and its relevance to modern day businesses, a female shop owner who requested anonymity said: "I don't know one thing about them kilogram something deh, pound me know and use to."

The BSJ has affirmed its stance to constantly educate and sensitise the public through its marketing and public relations department programmes.

Metrification has been a part of the primary and secondary education system for over two decades.