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Exporters seek new markets under Target Europe II programme

Published:Friday | February 18, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Dr André Gordon, vice-president of the Jamaica Exporters' Association.

The Jamaica Exporters' Association (JEA) says it will be shifting focus to what it sees as more lucrative markets in the Europe Union (EU) for authentic Jamaican products and services, through a new programme called Target Europe II.

JEA Vice-President Dr André Gordon, in a presentation to the media, said the specific objective of the initiative, is to grow the country's exports to the EU by 50 per cent in 2014 and 100 per cent by 2017.

"The JEA believes that Jamaica must earn its way to prosperity," he said.

"We, therefore, must develop and implement effective programmes to grow goods-and-service exports to markets that pay us well for these. We are going to focus on authentic Jamaican products and services to take to markets that pays us the best price for them."

The budget for the project is yet to be finalised as the roles of key stakeholders, including JAMPRO, is yet to be defined, but Dr Gordon is projecting an initial injection of €7-9 million.

"General exports have declined over the last several years; however, exports to Europe in particular, have been in precipitous decline in 2008, with a slight recovery in 2010," he said."

Volumes doubled

Volume exports to the EU, predominantly the United Kingdom, doubled in 2009, from 3.29 million kilograms to 6.326 million kg.

"What is frightening is that the value of these exports have declined by more than US$3 million, so that, in essence, we have seen a 2.5 times turnaround in the volume-to-value relationship, sending much more to get less money which is a direction [in which] we don't want to go," Gordon said.

The programme will identify and develop specific products and services to meet key selected EU market requirement, and will leverage the opportunities provided by the London Olympics through a partnership with Jamaica Village 2012, the country's promotional vehicle at the athletics event.

"Jamaica does not produce enough volume of anything, no matter what we think; and so, we need to put whatever volumes we have into markets that give us the best price, while we try, over time, to build volume," he said.

Jamaica's export of beverages and spirits to Europe accounts for 10.3 per cent of volume, while foods, fruits and vegetables amount to 21.1 per cent.

Research by the association reveals potential for the export of jerk and other sauces, coffee, and other products.

Exporters have been forced to sell greater volumes at discounted prices to stay alive, but the JEA will upgrade the capacity of qualifying firms and their value chain to supply products and services to chosen markets.

"Unlike many markets we now serve, the EU is willing to pay ridiculously high prices, but is very demanding," said Gordon.

The JEA is also exploring other possibilities, including a supply deal with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.