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US envoy says Jamaica ready for greater investment flow from the North; hails improvements in local economy

Published:Sunday | December 1, 2019 | 12:00 AMAlbert Ferguson /Gleaner Writer
United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia


The United States envoy in Jamaica says the prospects for greater investments by his country on the island have never been better, pointing to major improvements in the local economy and efforts by the government to make it easier to do business.

Addressing business leaders in Montego Bay, St James last night, Ambassador Donald Tapia said the Jamaican economy is ready for greater investments from his country.

“I strongly believe that the US private sector can lead the way to increase investment on the Island and continue to demonstrate that a pregnant, great robust market [exist in Jamaica]” said Tapia.

 “A [Economy] driven private sector holds the key to sustainable job creation and greater prosperity for Jamaica,” he added.

According to Tapia, now is truly an exciting time to be in Jamaica, given that the economic fundamentals have improved with economy recording growth and debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio reduced from 150 per cent to below 100 per cent.

“Jamaica has made it easier to do business by removing burdens, regulatory barriers and making permits a lot easier than they have been in the past which has paved the way for more foreign investors be become attracted to Jamaica,” he emphasised.

Citing the current disparity in trade between the US and Jamaica, Tapia said this can change if local business leaders make an effort to diversify the country's exports. 

He said 40 per cent of the trade to Jamaica comes from the US, valued at US$2.7 billion, while the value of Jamaican exports to the US amounts to just about US$600 million annually.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got to change the balance of goods being traded back and forth,” Tapia urged business leaders as he addressed the banquet of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

“I know that is strange coming from a US ambassador, but I said a lot of things that have been strange,” he said while acknowledging that the disparity can quickly change because Jamaica’s economy is pregnant for investments for which the US private sector can lead other investors to the island to further boost the economy.

Tom Gilman, chief financial officer and assistant secretary for Administration, United States Department of Commerce, will be visiting the island in January to share several ways in which local private sector leaders can take advantage of business opportunities to grow their businesses and the Jamaican economy.

“On January 28, [2020] ... he will be here [in Jamaica] to speak with the American Chamber of Commerce. I am sure all of you sitting in this room to will actually be there to hear him because there is quite a lot of questions that have to be asked of how we can build commerce between Jamaica and the United States,” said Tapia.

The US envoy's vote of confidence in the Jamaican economy comes on the heels of his recent warnings about China's growing investments on the island. Tapia's criticism also came during Prime Minister Andrew Holness' official visit last month to the Asian economic power, whose leader pledged to invest even more in the Jamaican economy and widen trade between Kingston and Beijing.

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