Jamaican exporters say they have seen no major fallout from the shutdown of the United States (US) government two weeks ago, but are hopeful that the budget conflict won't bleed into the Christmas period.
The shutdown, since October 1, has bled into a fight over raising the US debt ceiling.
The Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA) said members had shipped supplies to cover orders ahead of the shutdown.
"We have been surveying our members and it seems there is a lag period before some of the things catch up with them, because the only indication we have right now of issues, relate to individuals who say that shipments that would normally be processed within a certain time have slowed down - moving from two days to about three or four days," said JEA Managing Director Jean Smith.
However, Smith said the association is wary of a prolonged instability with the upcoming Christmas period and that a further extension of the shutdown would have "greater repercussions".
"I think firms that have sent in supplies have covered their customers, and I think some of them have inventories that will be able to keep them going for awhile. What I'm fretting about now is the orders that would need to go in toward the end of this month, into November, for Christmas," said Smith.
BnRs Holdings, an exporter of spice and jerk sauces, said it encountered a minor setback last week when it needed to restock an item in the US.
"It took two additional days but we have since gotten it cleared," said director Paul Lewis.
"Everybody is going to be affected by the government shutdown in the US, in some way shape or form," he said.
new budget agreement
A partial shutdown of the US government was set in motion earlier this month, after the two houses of Congress failed to agree to a new budget.
The Republican-led House of Representatives had tried to defund, then delay President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as a condition for passing the bill. The gambits failed.
The US Senate has been working on a short-term plan to reopen government and raise the debt limit. On Tuesday, House GOP leaders floated an alternative plan to fellow Republicans to counter the emerging Senate deal. But the plan got mixed reviews from the rank and file, and it was not clear whether it could pass the chamber, according to AP reports.
attack on bipartisanship
The measure would suspend a new tax on medical devices for two years and take away the federal government's health-care contributions to lawmakers and top administration officials. It would also fund the government, through January 15, and give the US Treasury Department the ability to borrow normally, through February 7.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, involved in negotiations with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, blasted the House plan as a blatant attack on bipartisanship.
"It can't pass the Senate and it won't pass the Senate," Reid said. That sparked an angry response from Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, who accused Reid of "piling on" and urged him to consider the House effort as a good-faith offer.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has warned that the US will reach its borrowing limit on Thursday, October 17.
The US debt amounts to US$16.7 trillion.