THE EDITOR, Sir:
According to the former director of the PetroCaribe Fund, Sharon Weber, "Jamaican firms have not been exploiting the trade component of the agreement." Further, the region's trade with Europe has declined since the inception of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union in 2008, and Jamaica has made the biggest retreat from the market.
The findings of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor are even more disheartening. The report indicated that 64 per cent of Jamaica's entrepreneurs do not penetrate the international markets. The local private sector must improve its international competitiveness in order for Jamaica to succeed in this highly globalised and interconnected world.
However, if this is to be done, policymakers and local business people must be educated about the benefits of internationalisation. Jamaica should follow the examples of Europe and North America.
According to a 2009 European Commission-funded study, titled 'Internationalisation of European SMEs', there are numerous benefits to be gained from internationalisation. The study found a correlation between SMEs being internationally active and having better-than-average business performance scores. Internationally active SMEs also reported higher employment growth from 2007-2008 than other SMEs; these firms were also more innovative.
The internationalisation of the private sector will enhance the competitiveness of the Jamaican economy and the Government will earn more revenues.
Another obstacle which affects SMEs is their management structure. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Felaban recently concluded a survey which included 106 banks in the region. According to the IDB, almost 56 per cent of the banks who participated in the survey had a problem with SMEs' level of informality. Their level of informality creates a lack of credible information that makes it difficult to assess credit risk.
SYSTEM OF DEPENDENCE
Therefore, the present administration should use Jamaica Emergency Employment Pro-gramme (JEEP) funds to create an extensive training programme for SMEs, because well-known academic Rosalea Hamilton recently informed us that 80 per cent of MSMEs who sought training in the Business Entrepreneurial Empowerment Programme did not know how to use computers to enhance efficiency of their respective businesses.
The current administration should give preference to the small business sector and not JEEP, because the latter will not add value to the economy. I doubt that the People's National Party will heed my advice, because the party will not do anything which will prevent the people from depending on it.