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Think big in 2012! US ambassador urges Portland Chamber to dare to be different

Published:Saturday | January 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer

PORT ANTONIO, Portland:

UNITED STATES (US) ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela Bridgewater, has urged the Portland Chamber of Commerce to be a stronger voice within the tourist industry and to do more to capitalise on business opportunities.

Bridgewater was addressing the chamber's annual general meeting at the Port Antonio Marina on Thursday.

She told the gathering that it was important that the chamber maximise the benefits that are available and use the various avenues of economic trade opportunities between Jamaica and the US.

"We challenge you to make exports to the US favourable to Jamaicans. We know that small businesses - such as those in Portland and other places - comprise the bulk of this parish economy and, therefore, I think that you are missing a very important business opportunity. We stand ready to work with you, to assist your business community, and to explore the tremendous potential of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). Think big in 2012. Don't stay where you are. Explore, as the sky is the limit for you."

Opportunities to explore

Bridgewater said over 90 per cent of Jamaica's exports to the US can enter that market duty-free under the CBI or under the Generalised System of Preferences.

"Jamaican exporters are not taking full advantage of this opportunity. Jamaica's ginger is of the highest quality in terms of its benefit to individuals, its taste, flavour, and its properties. I know that those who grow ginger are looking for ginger capital. And if those who have capital would put some of that capital together, perhaps those individuals could go ahead and market this ginger in places around the world, bringing value added to Jamaica and Jamaicans."

rural@gleanerjm.com