Exporters urged to pay attention to rules of trade
With a number of potential deals to be made with overseas buyers during this week's staging of the 43rd staging of Expo Jamaica, local manufacturers and exporters are being urged to pay attention to the rules that determine the readiness of their products for the export market.
"People hear us talking about being in a global economy and they really don't understand at the ground level what that really means, and what that really means is that if we are talking one language here in Jamaica and we are trying to go into markets which speak another language we are not going to get anywhere," Paul Lewis, vice-president of the Jamaica Exporters' Association, said while addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the company's Kingston offices last week.
Pointing to the example of labels, Lewis explained that products being sent to particular markets have specific requirements that must be met in order for the products to be accepted.
According to Lewis, the introduction of the Food Safety Modernization Act in the United States, and similar regimes in other jurisdictions, have serious implications for the Jamaican export market, as more stringent rules regarding food safety are being enforced.
"All countries are going towards this process, and one might not look at that initially as a barrier for entry, but it can very well be," he said.
Lewis has argued that the tendency of small exporters to feel victimised by the requirements demanded by the food-safety regime in target markets can be addressed by a change in the mindset.
"They are not understanding that this is a global issue and it is not pointed at Jamaica ... so one of the keys to understanding how to enter a market is market intelligence, the players on the ground, and understanding what that market requires of our products," he said.
Lewis called for manufacturers and exporters to engage in research and make use of the information that is available about the various trade rules and requirements demanded by export markets.
He has also encouraged exporters to make use of connections that can be made at Expo Jamaica, which will assist them in understanding how to penetrate markets and overcome potential barriers to trade.