Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Developing Emerging Sectors for Economic Growth

Published:Tuesday | October 18, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Wehby

Now more than ever, Jamaica needs to rapidly diversify the economy and industries to ensure that the country can have growth. There are substantial opportunities to expand into new spheres by building emerging sectors for more investment and trade prospects for Jamaica.

Many Jamaican businesses experience some level of economic challenges, but on a macroeconomic level, over the last few decades, sectors such as tourism, manufacturing and a myriad of service industries have been reliable pillars of support. The challenge is that these streams of economic potential (as currently structured) are not enough to combat our debt and help us to achieve the overall goals for the economy.

It is clear that the diversification of existing industries, coupled with the creation of new ones, needs to be advanced to create more avenues that will nurture Jamaica's growth. As the development of industry is a significant part of JAMPRO's mandate, the agency has led the way in the development of the country's outsourcing industry by initially attracting of investment in data entry centres in the late 1990s. Today, the industry continues to progress and now employs more than 21,000 persons.

Similarly, JAMPRO has also partnered with key stakeholder in the development of burgeoning sectors such as international financial services, and export-focused industries such as the creative industries, for investment.

With regards to the creative industries, Jamaica has long been a cultural leader not only regionally, but also in the wider world. While we tell our stories on the international stage, the question remains, how can we harness this innate part of our identity and support the growth of these industries so the economy can benefit? JAMPRO must focus on creating solutions to fill the gap that stifles development and investments in these industries. Last year, JAMPRO facilitated under J$700 million in creative industries projects or projects linked to these industries. We can do more. To develop the sector, especially the film industry, JAMPRO will focus on advancing the creation of a Jamaica Film Fund, which would establish a national production fund as a vehicle to incentivise both local and international investors.

 

CHANCE TO DIVERSIFY

 

International financial services also provide a chance to diversify the economy and provide further growth for the finance sector. It is a multi-trillion dollar industry globally, and in neighbouring countries such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, it has become a major contributor to their economies. The Jamaica International Financial Services Authority (JIFSA) is charged with building on the global lessons learnt in these jurisdictions and replicate their success in Jamaica.

The goal is to create a system where Jamaicans can enjoy high-paying jobs and lucrative career opportunities, while the Government earns tax income. The economy would be injected by foreign exchange from the influx of international employees utilising local professionals such as attorneys, accountants, bankers, and many others would also benefit directly from the new financial services clientele. JAMPRO is working in partnership with JIFSA to promote this sector for investment, and realise the potential boost for the economy.

JAMPRO will continue to focus on highlighting the value proposition of Jamaica for business in these and other sectors as we create and implement world-leading investor-engagement strategies that take potential investors from enquiry to implementation.

- Don Wehby is chairman, JAMPRO and Group CEO, GraceKennedy.