Jamaican, Dom Rep businesses to strengthen trade relations
Chairman of Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) Jeffrey Hall expects reciprocal benefits from strengthened partnership between businesses in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, especially around trade.
Hall, who is also chief executive officer of Jamaica Producers Group, was speaking as a delegation of 30 business leaders from the Dominican Republic toured KWL’s facilities on Wednesday, February 22. The team was in Jamaica as part of Dominican Week, staged under the auspices of the Dominican Republic Chamber of Commerce in Jamaica and that country’s embassy.
Hall also serves as the inaugural chairman of the DR Chamber of Commerce in Jamaica.
“We are working closely with the embassy to improve relations between businesses in Jamaica and businesses in the DR,” he said, adding, “We believe there is a huge opportunity for more trade and investment in the northern Caribbean; there was a (traditional) view before now that even though we were geographically close, language divided us. So the purpose of staging DR Week in Jamaica is to break down that barrier.”
The Jamaica Producers Group has business interests in the Dominican Republic, operating snack, ice and water manufacturing and distribution in the country. JP’s Geest Shipping line also calls in the Dominican Republic, and there is strong shipping connectivity between JP subsidiary Kingston Wharves Limited and ports in the Dominican Republic, particularly through Seaboard Marine.
Noting the importance of touring the port, Hall said, “The port is a very useful entry point to understanding the business prospects in a country. It can give you a wide network of relationships, a sense of the law and business norms, and the appetite for trade; and that is really, really important for doing business anywhere, particularly in the Caribbean.”
Minister-Counsellor, Deputy Chief of Mission at the DR Embassy in Jamaica, Miguel Balaguer, underscored the importance of bringing the business delegation from his country to the first-ever Dominican Week in Jamaica and to view operations at Kingston Wharves. “We expect that relations will be strengthened, and we will derive more possibilities and synergies between KWL and the businesses from Dominican Republic, some of whom are already partners.”
Jamaican exports to the Dominican Republic stood at US$2.7 million in 2021, according to the United Nations’ Comtrade database. Exports from the Dominican Republic to Jamaica in that period amounted to some US$85.6 million.