THE EDITOR, Sir:
Many Jamaicans ask the question: If our trade deficit/imbalance is as a result of importing more than we export, why don't we just import less and eliminate the problem?
Fortunately or unfortunately, we have subscribed to the concept of free trade and, as such, we cannot create any 'barrier to entry' that would restrict the importation of goods that meet the requirements as set out by the institutions responsible for monitoring imports.
It is important to note that if at any time we restrict the importation of any goods on the basis of protecting local manufacturers, or any other interest group, this action can be reciprocated by any country to which we wish to export our own local products and will be considered a violation.
World Trade Organisation policy requires governments to publish sufficient information for traders to know how, and why, the licences are granted. It also describes how countries should notify the WTO when they introduce new import licensing procedures or change existing procedures.
If Jamaicans have any intention to right this wrong, the only solution is through brand loyalty. Part of the problem is, however, that there are so many items and packages (besides some being of inferior quality), we just cannot easily identify Jamaican products, unless we are told, or close attention is given to the label.
Jamaicans are a proud people and we would rather 'Buy Jamaican' as much as we would like to 'Fly Jamaican', as we have seen from the sentiments with the new airline. I am sure if many Jamaicans were aware we were importing water from Trinidad, they would desist from purchasing the brand.
The onus is, therefore, on local manufacturers to ensure 'JAMAICA' is highlighted on every local product in some shape or form, which would heighten the awareness of consumers.
At this time we need to understand more than ever how important it is to Buy Jamaican or 'Bye, Jamaica' or say 'Bye, Jamaica'.