Wednesday | September 26, 2001

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Increase in JAMPRO investment projects

Patricia Francis

WHILE JAMAICA'S overall Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows dropped last year, the value of the investments which came through JAMPRO increased, moving from US$101 million in 1999 to US$137.9 million in 2000, according to figures compiled by the Bank of Jamaica.

In manufacturing, for example, the value of the JAMPRO-implemented projects moved from US$10.9 million in 1999 to US$35.6 million last year. There was also a 200 per cent increase in the number of manufacturing projects JAMPRO had implemented last year, with the agency registering 9 compared with three in 1999. While JAMPRO implemented nine tourism projects in 1999 at the value of US$36.4 million, in 2000, 13 projects were implemented at a value of US$101.71 million.

These facts were revealed by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Technology, Phillip Paulwell, as he addressed the launching ceremony for the World Investment Report 2001. Minister Paulwell noted that the Latin American and Caribbean region, which previously led the world in terms of FDI inflows, last year experienced a 22 per cent drop as a result of fewer divestments and Mergers and Acquisitions. Jamaica, too, experienced a decline in FDI inflows from US$523 million in 1999 to $456 million in 2000. Between 1999 and 2000

Mergers and Acquisitions as a proportion of total FDIs declined from 30 per cent to 8.9 per cent.

The Minister noted however that if the returns from the sale of the cellular licences to Both Mossel and Centennial (US$92.5 million) were factored into the total resource transfer, then Jamaica's investment performance would be even more impressive. The Minister observed that notwithstanding the fall in FDI inflows last year, Jamaica had third highest inflows of FDIs in the region, following the Dominican Republic and Trinidad.

The President of JAMPRO, Mrs. Patricia Francis, in her introductory remarks, hailed the World Investment Report 2001 as "a goldmine of information". She said her agency looked forward to the information the report presented every year as "as we seek to do our job with the highest level of efficiency, guided by accurate, timely information".

Commenting on the theme of the report this year, "Promoting Linkages" between foreign affiliates and domestic firms, Mrs. Francis fully endorsed it, saying that JAMPRO had already begun initiatives in this area.

She pointed to the US$10 million contract which Therapedic Bedding received to supply beds to the Rui hotel here after JAMPRO had organised an exhibition for furniture manufacturers to introduce their products to the Spanish hotel chain. Mrs. Francis also drew attention to JAMPRO's e-Basket Programme which is an electronic data exchange system which brings potential buyers and suppliers together under one virtual roof. JAMPRO is working with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) to match the needs of farmers and hoteliers.

"The hotel sector has been gradually increasing its purchases from the local farming community but there has been the problem of the irregularity of supplies as well as inadequate information about pricing, crop availability etc.

Through the e-Basket data exchange system, we are hoping to solve the supply and demand problem", Mrs. Francis said. She said that JAMPRO routinely links the country's actors, directors, producers, musicians as well as the people who rent equipment and studio facilities with foreign entertainment crews. The JAMPRO President said the agency fully endorsed the World Investment Report's emphasis on promoting linkages, saying this had become even more important in this globalised era.

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