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Assisting Jamaica to reap the benefits of trade

Assisting Jamaica to reap the benefits of trade

Commonwealth in Action: Hub and Spokes II - Developing Jamaica's Foreign Trade Policy and Action Plan.

The Hub and Spokes II Programme provides trade experts to national ministries and regional trade organisations to enhance trade capacity in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states. It is a joint programme of the European Union (main donor), ACP Group Secretariat, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Josephine Nyakatawa is a National Trade Adviser deployed to the Jamaica Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

Read her blog below:

With a population of about 2.7 million people, the island of Jamaica has the largest population in the English speaking region of the Caribbean. Despite being an upper middle income country, Jamaica’s economic growth rate is low, making it one of the slowest growing developing countries not only in the Caribbean region but in the world.

As a small, open developing island state, Jamaica is highly dependent on international trade, posting a ratio of imports and exports of goods and services to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 84.8 per cent in 2014. Given the importance of international trade to Jamaica’s economy, trade can act as an important engine of economic growth.

Jamaica is currently in the process of revising its 2001 Foreign Trade Policy. The revision process, which was launched in 2011, is being spearheaded by the Foreign Trade Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade – the Ministry not only responsible for foreign trade matters but also for coordinating the implementation of trade agreements in Jamaica.

The development of a revised Foreign Trade Policy was necessitated by the need for an inclusive and comprehensive approach to trade policy formulation and implementation, and to ensure the country fully reaps the benefits of international trade. The implementation of the Foreign Trade Policy is expected to improve Jamaica’s trade and export performance, as well as strengthen the role of foreign trade as an engine for economic growth and development in Jamaica.

Since joining the Ministry in 2014, my work has focused on assisting in the drafting of the revised Foreign Trade Policy. In particular, contributions have been made to developing the Foreign Trade Policy and Action Plan through the provision of technical advice, drafting inputs and mobilising funds from the Hub and Spokes II Programme.

In addition, another key area of work has been contributing to the implementation of existing trade agreements Jamaica is party to. In particular, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC), which establishes the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), and the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM)-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

Through the creation of a single large market, the CSME is intended to benefit the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region by providing more and better opportunities to produce and sell goods and services, and to attract investment. Given Jamaica’s small domestic market, the CSME gives Jamaican producers access to a regional open market of approximately15 million people. If fully utilised, this could greatly increase the benefits of trade to Jamaican producers.

Within my role at the Ministry I have organised, participated in and facilitated a number of projects and activities relating to the CSME, including for the Jamaican private sector. These were aimed at firstly, increasing public awareness of the regional integration process, and secondly, contributing to the effective implementation of the CSME.

Raising awareness and sensitising stakeholders in the public and private sectors, and civil society, on developments in trade has been another key area of focus.

In October 2015, I facilitated the launch of the stakeholder sensitisation and consultation process on the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)-EU partnership in the context of the expiry of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020. The Cotonou Partnership Agreement is an agreement between the EU and 79 ACP countries. It aims to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty, while contributing to sustainable development and to the gradual integration of ACP countries into the world economy.  

The sensitisation process hence aims to ensure that Jamaica actively participates in the discussions on the ACP-EU partnership post-2020, from a well informed position at both the regional and international levels.

With this in mind, I developed a background paper on the changing relationship between the ACP and the EU in the context of the expiry of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020, circulated to relevant stakeholders.

In particular, this looked at the fundamental internal developments that have taken place within the EU and the ACP since the signing of the Lome I Convention in 1975 - a predecessor agreement to the Cotonou - and how they have impacted the relations between the two parties, and what Jamaica needs to do in preparation for the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement. 

To date, over 50 stakeholders from the public and private sectors and civil society have benefited. However, the process is ongoing, towards the development of a country strategy to inform Jamaica’s position on negotiations for a new ACP-EU partnership post-2020.

For more information on the Hub and Spokes II programme, please email the team