Fifteen Jamaican companies have signed an agreement with Government committing to deliver increased exports within two years in exchange for state financial backing.
The companies mostly operating in the agro-processing sector were chosen for the Export Max programme, which aims to growing export sales by 20 per cent in two years.
The companies signed a memorandum of understanding with Jampro, the Government's investment-promotion agency, cementing their participation in the initiative.
Jampro told Wednesday Business that by next week the agency would have estimated the dollar value represented by this anticipated 20 per cent growth in sales from the companies, which will receive assistance in the development of business and export marketing plans, grant and loan proposals, and customised training, as well as market research.
The 15 companies revealed Tuesday are A Taste of the Caribbean, Southern Fruits and Food Processors Limited, Jamrow Trading and Manufacturing, Blue Ribbon Manufacturing, Southside Distributors, Perishables Jamaica Limited, Wynlee Trading, Tijule Company, Canco, Salada Foods, Central Food Packers, PA Benjamin, Sun Island Jamaica, Heather Laine, and Gray's Pepper.
"The stated outcome of 10 per cent growth in export sales in year one and 20 per cent in year two is a real possibility that is absolutely doable," said Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Dr Christopher Tufton at the announcement of the participating companies.
"I ask you to see this morning's proceedings as more than a case of picking winners; rather, this is a deliberate initiative under the broad rubric of National Export Strategy (NES) to systematically build out capacity in all our export-ready firms over time to achieve the levels of success that we are capable of achieving as a nation," he said.
The companies were selected via competitive tender that closed June 27, based on export readiness and capacity as well as economic impact, among other variables.
Export Max's overseeing agencies include Jampro, Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), EXIM Bank and GIZ, a German international donor agency.
Export Max is a J$18-million initiative launched earlier this year to develop export capacity and competitiveness. A second set of companies will be chosen in two years.
Tufton said that the aim is to use these 15 companies to generate wider growth in the economy.
Jamaica suffers from a historical trade imbalance, with exports typically performing at about a quarter of imports.
The current account deficit stood at US$241 million for the first four months of 2011, which represented a deterioration of US$121.2 million relative to the corresponding period in 2010, according to latest Bank of Jamaica data.
In calendar year 2010, the current account deficit was US$991 million.