Jamaican companies get EU assist with market positioning
The European Union is bankrolling a project to position Jamaica's trade associations to deliver more targeted services and be better advisors to the companies that make up their membership.
The targeted business support organisation, or BSOs, such as the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association and the Jamaica Exporters Association, will be advised by BKP Development Research and Consulting.
The EU is putting €200,000 (J$23.8m) into the programme.
Franzia Edwards, a consultant with BKP Development Research, said already some of the capacity needs of the BSOs have been identified.
The project, she said, would guide BSOs in the execution of strategies to push the interests of businesses, and to build better understanding of the potential impact and practical implications of trade agreements.
"We are also going to be looking at the operational strategy and helping to determine action plans (and) develop appropriate services," she said.
"We will be looking at issues such as market access, project analysis, loads management and company market and match-making support."
Dr Noel Watson, another con-sultant with BKP Development Research, said the project hopes to reach some 180 companies, indirectly.
He said the BSOs would be trained, and they in turn were expected to train the benefitting companies.
"So we are going to train them on things like funding, marketing, export promotions - all those things that they need to get into the export markets," he explained.
Reginald Budhan, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Investment and Commerce said training of this nature would allow Jamaican exporters to access the European market more efficiently under the EU-Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement to which Jamaica is a party.
Jamaica runs a trade deficit with most of its trading partners, including the Caricom bloc, which widened by 16.2 per cent to US$284.6 million in the first five months of 2010 relative to the similar period in 2009 when the gap was US$245 million.
"Many of you will look at these figures and begin to pronounce doom and gloom; what we need to see behind these figures are the opportunities. We continue to see positive performance in terms of our non-traditional exports and we really need to pick up on this trend and move toward greater value added in that sector as well as others," said Budhan.
"Weak export competitiveness holds back our economic development and it deprives us of increases in savings and capital accumulation, employment and foreign exchange. We must therefore make every effort to ensure that increase and sustained benefits are derived from our participation in both regional and international trade," he said.
Budhan said Jamaica's total exports declined by 2.3 per cent between January and May.
'We are going to train them on things like funding, marketing, export promotions - all those things that they need to get into the export markets.'