Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.
By Thalia Auguste, Special to Caribbean American Weekly.
Recently, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, was accompanied to New York by Jamaica Promotions Corporation’s (JAMPRO) President, Diane Edwards. Together the two delivered a dynamic presentation on why this is the right time for companies to invest in Jamaica. The island of Jamaica is no stranger to the spotlight, from being home to Usain Bolt and Bob Marley, to their dancehall music and dance style. But Minister Shaw wanted people to see this leading Caribbean island in a different light, stating that Jamaica is perfectly positioned for a strong period of growth and development.
Shaw highlighted numerous opportunities for investment in agriculture, business process outsourcing (BPO), logistics, mining and tourism, urging investors not to miss out on this opportunity. A number of global brands such as Campari, CMA/CGM, New Fortress Energy, New Day Holding Company and BMW are just some success stories that have chosen Jamaica. The Minister emphasized that Jamaica is open for business and that there’s a huge market for investors and that every investor will be treated equally. When posed the question about investors bringing in their own teams, he stated, “this is not an issue we have in Jamaica; to every one non-local there [are] eight or more locals working”; this way the knowledge is spread from locals to non-locals.
Posed with many questions from attendees about climate, security and export challenges faced by Jamaica, Shaw informed potential investors that New York’s JAMPRO office was reopened and that President Edwards is willing to assist with concerns and queries potential investors and investors may have, and that furthermore, they are diligently working towards a successful market that will benefit everyone. The country currently sits at position number three in the world for starting a business.
The Minister also added that lots of Jamaicans are producing or designing exotic wines that are growing naturally on the island, breadfruit wine, ackee wine, cassava wine and sorrel wine to name a few. He’s fully aware that these wines will not compete with wines from Argentina, France or California,” so we want to market them as a unique type of wine,” as “cooking wines from Jamaica.”
“It’s time for us to be creative and innovative; think outside the box,” he said when asked how he plans to fit agriculture into a tourism-driven world. “In the case of Jamaica we have vast acres of land; most of it is idle.” There will be more infrastructure. “Right now an irrigation program is happening in the Essex Valley in Manchester where many farmers will benefit upon [its] completion.” These are just the many things happening in Jamaica to ensure that farmers don’t depend on the uncertainties of the weather to be productive.
The Minister knows there will be challenges but believes that the tourism industry has reached its level of maturity with phenomenal growth and what it needs now is agriculture. These two major industries can go hand in hand. Rather than tourists eating foods that are readily available in their own country, they can now experience an authenticity of Jamaica with foods and drinks grown right on the island, creating avenues that will benefit farmers and leaving the visitor with an authentic Jamaican experience.
In this fast-paced world Jamaica believes that the country holds adequate space for investors, with the government putting in the time and work to ensure that infrastructure is improved like road networks, energy cost reduction vial liquefied natural gas (LNG), the port of Kingston upgrade, Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) privatization, cruise port upgrade in Ocho Rios and a new floating pier in Kingston. This all offers a smooth sail for trade and investment.
The Minister, with the assistance of JAMPRO, offers investors a safe, diverse and equal opportunity for locals and foreigners; with strong growth and development Jamaica provides an opportunity that will benefit all.