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Commonwealth supports Jamaica to diversify its trade offer

16 August 2017

New opportunities for Jamaica to benefit from emerging markets and Brexit have been set out in two key publications by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

More than 65 stakeholders from across government, as well as the public and private sectors, met last week in Kingston to discuss the Secretariat’s ‘Brexit: Challenges and Opportunities for Jamaica and Other CARIFORUM Countries’ publication.

Ambassadors for the UK and Dominican Republic, in addition to the chief trade negotiator for the CARICOM Secretariat, permanent secretary and under-secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, were in attendance at the conference on the 9 August, alongside other ministries and agencies, the media and exporters.

Among the report’s findings was the conclusion that Britain’s exit from the European Union means that the CARIFORUM–EU economic partnership agreement will no longer apply to the UK. This means that Caribbean countries will be prevented from accessing the UK market on duty-free and quota-free terms for many of their key sectors. However, the publication points out that Jamaica, alongside the CARIFORM region, will probably have access to a transitional deal with the UK directly after Brexit. In addition, these countries will also have an opportunity to renegotiate their trading relationship, opening up the potential for improved market access in a successor trade agreement with the UK.

Ahead of Brexit in 2019, Jamaica and the Caribbean Forum states are focused on greater engagement with the UK to ensure they receive the best possible deal from the transition, and the Commonwealth’s analysis is a helpful part of informing nations going forward.

A separate event later that day addressed the Commonwealth’s ‘New Product, New Market’ scheme report, which focuses on the emerging opportunities for the Caribbean nation. The much anticipated analysis was presented at the conference, which was hosted by JAMPRO, an agency of the Government of Jamaica’s Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

The report recommended that exporters should focus on expanding production and trade across a selection of more than new product lines in emerging markets. This includes some countries in Asia and Africa, as well as non-traditional EU markets such as Norway, Spain and Switzerland. The publication further reveals that Jamaica could focus on just two neighbouring Caribbean countries, namely The Bahamas and Dominican Republic, in order to significantly increase its regional trade.

Delegates talked through the marketing plans of 23 newly-identified competitive products that Jamaica could target for sales in target new global markets.

Commonwealth trade adviser and contributing author Olayinka Bandele said, “The Commonwealth’s report marks a significant step towards supporting Jamaica to achieve its goal of trade diversification. This input was welcomed by JAMPRO’s president.

“The Commonwealth Secretariat’s assistance will help Jamaica to achieve its goal of boosting its existing trade deals in order to meet the 2020 targets set out in its National Export Strategy.”