Mon | Feb 18, 2019

Mottley woos Jamaican investors to Eastern Caribbean

Published:Thursday | January 24, 2019 | 12:50 AMPaul Clarke and Albert Ferguson
Former Jamaican prime ministers P.J. Patterson (second right) and Edward Seaga are caught up in a discussion while Debbie Hamilton-Crooks (left) has a chat with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley at the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s 14th Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston yesterday.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley is courting Jamaican investors, citing the country’s stronger-than-usual economic performance over the last calendar year as a much-needed springboard into Eastern Caribbean markets.

She told a large audience at the 14th Regional Jamaica Stock Exchange Investments and Capital Markets Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston yesterday that Jamaican investment is badly needed in the Eastern and southern Caribbean, having built up a cache of surplus capital.

Mottley noted, however, that the opportunities for investment may be constrained by the capacity to make compelling profits.

“Credible profits will only come if we remove many of these obstacles that are now preventing the free movement of goods across the region,” she said.

“These are the issues that confront us. As you can see, some will be structural, and some will require deep policy consideration if we are going to see the shift that allows us to unleash the US$47 billion in private savings across the region.

“I’d like to suggest that the region cannot be having a problem with growth without coming together to see how best we can move across borders to be able to allow instruments and bonds issued in one CARICOM territory to be marketed and used by citizens and entities in other CARICOM territories,” said Mottley.

She further urged CARICOM countries to become involved in cross-border trade as well as the mutual recognition of securities issued by one country into another.

“There must be common minimum standards of issuance, and standards for sale of instruments. If we don’t have that, we are not going to unlock the surplus savings in each territory. “

Wehby bullish

GraceKennedy Chief Executive Don Wehby, who is in Trinidad, told The Gleaner yesterday that he viewed the Eastern Caribbean as a thriving market that Jamaican businesses should tap.

While revealing that seven per cent of the GraceKennedy Group’s revenue was generated in the Eastern Caribbean, Wehby was bullish about the prospects of commerce there despite the relatively small market and scattered nature of the islands.

“The Eastern and southern Caribbean is a critical part of our investment strategy. For Western Union, we don’t find size to be an inhibitor.

“Yes, the market is small, but if you structure your company properly, you can manage expenses. We find it quite attractive,” he added.

Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, called on private-sector leaders to break down trade barriers and invest aggressively in the Caribbean Community as well as further afield.

“What we have failed to do over the years is to insist on the welcoming treatment and openness of trade that Jamaica extends to the rest of the world from our regional and other counterparts. Time come now,” said Seaga in his speech at yesterday’s launch of the second annual staging of the Jamaica International Exhibition (JIE) at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay.

“We also must ... break down those barriers, knock on the doors, and don’t be afraid to explore the endless opportunities,” he added.