Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) – A better life for all Jamaicans

written by BVC July 17, 2021

Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA)

A better life for all Jamaicans

 

Business View Caribbean profiles the Jamaican Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) for our focus on Best Practices in Manufacturing in Jamaica

The Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) is guided by the motto “Produce Local, Export Global.” We believe that a manufacturing and export led economy is one of the main drivers of sustainable development for Jamaica. As an Association representing over 400 members, our work is heavily centred on advocating for and advancing the interests of local manufacturers, exporters, and service providers.

Advocacy is a vital tool of the JMEA, used to foster an enabling environment for the productive sectors. This involves representation on a wide cross-section of issues affecting business development and commerce at various levels. Some of our notable advocacy efforts include representation in bilateral and regional bodies such as the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), EU CARIFORUM Joint Consultative Committee, the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CSPO), and the Caribbean Manufacturers Association (CMA).

At the national level, the JMEA has given a voice to issues of relevance through stakeholder meetings with key decision-makers in the Government, collaboration with other Business Support Organizations (BSO) and stakeholder groups, compilation of position papers to Parliament, as well as opinion pieces within the traditional and digital media space.

The JMEA since its amalgamation in 2018, has built a reputation of being a results-oriented and issues-focused entity, piloted by the combined legacy of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA) and the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA) which spans over 70 years of service to the productive sectors.

To date, the Association has played a significant role in several key areas most beneficial to manufacturers and exporters:

  • The development of the National Five-Year Manufacturing Growth Strategy, in partnership with the Ministry of Industry, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO). This Strategy now approved by the Government will help to direct the reformation of manufacturing with the aim of increasing the sector’s contribution to national GDP to JA$81 billion by 2025.
  • Removal of the Customs Administrative Fee (CAF) on exports of a value equal to or less than USD$500. This is particularly beneficial to our SMEs as they now have an opportunity to export more with reduced cost barriers.
  • Implementation of the Set-a-Side and Offset Regime of the Procurement Policy, allowing for preferential access to government contracts to MSMEs-companies earning under J$425M.
  • Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce in Europe (CCCE) to enhance and facilitate export to Europe.
  • Signatory on the formation of the CARICOM Manufacturers Association (CMA) which was officially established in November 2020. The CMA will be focused on collaboratively boosting the region’s manufacturing growth.
  • Participation in the Manufacturing and Export Growth Team (MEGT), a joint stakeholder group with a focus on growing the export linkages and manufacturing capabilities of Jamaica.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the JMEA advocated successfully for the following:

  1. Three months moratorium on rent and stay on rental increases for manufacturers from the Factories Corporation of Jamaica Ltd. (FCJ) during the onset of COVID-19.
  2. Fifty percent reduction in export fees charged by the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA).
  3. Prevention of a forty percent duty on refined sugar that would have been introduced on local manufacturers.
  4. Reinstatement of import duty on hand sanitizers in 2020, to ensure that our local manufacturers could capitalize on market demand.

These we believe, are steps in the right direction that will help to support manufacturing and export and ultimately boost investor confidence.

At present, the JMEA remains focused on continuing its lobbying efforts on the following issues, that once rectified will also make significant contributions:

  1. Provision of a fiscal or tax credit for Research and Development (R&D) for new products or improvement on existing products for export or import substitution upon approval of projects by a body such as the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST).
  2. The implementation of equitable policies that balances and supports environmental and industry goals in relation to the ban on importation and usage of plastics and Styrofoam.
  3. Jamaica’s adoption of the Madrid Protocol which will facilitate the acquisition of trademark protection for several countries using a single application.
  4. Endorsement of the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CPSO) undertaking of a comprehensive Regional Impact Assessment (RIA) on Front of Package Labelling (FOPL) before subscribing to a regional standard.

Jamaica, like the rest of the world since 2020, has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with several sectors including manufacturing and export being affected. Over 70 percent of our membership falls within the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) category. Our MSMEs, specifically those supplying the Entertainment, Tourism and Education industries, have been hardest hit.

Some of the major challenges they encountered included inadequate liquidity, complete loss of or decrease in the local market, loss of access to international markets, loss of access to external finance, operational adjustments, as well as increased cost of raw material. Nevertheless, despite the challenges, several opportunities for pivoting emerged from the pandemic, as many companies shifted focus to other areas such as sanitation products (production of hand sanitizers, cleaning agents and paper products) along with the production of Personal Protective Equipment (specifically masks). The utilization of ecommerce also increased, specifically in B2C interactions within the Food and Beverage subsector.

As we look ahead, we believe that a radical shift within Jamaica’s economic landscape is needed. This means that as we seek to build back stronger, we envision a Jamaica with a diversified economic base. One that is no longer overly reliant on one sector but is supported by other areas that can also sustain and drive economic development. For this to happen, the priority focus must shift to improving investments in the Agro-processing industry, expansion of product and service portfolio with new value-added offerings, diversification of supply chain networks, investment in research and innovation supported by the provision of incentives, investment in productivity, boosting our logistics and transhipment capabilities, and utilization of untapped export opportunities and niche markets for high demand products.

A manufacturing and export led economy is key to Jamaica’s sustainable future. The JMEA will, therefore, continue to play its part in advocating for an equitable and inclusive environment where manufacturers, exporters, and service providers are empowered in their quest to contribute to the socio-economic welfare of the country by creating jobs and improving the standard of living for all Jamaicans.

AT A GLANCE

Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA)

What: An organization representing Jamaica’s manufacturers, exporters, and service providers.

Where: Kingston, Jamaica

Website: www.jmea.org

Volume 8 Issue 7 cover of Business View Caribbean
Volume 8 Issue 7

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