State minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Dr Norman Dunn, has asserted that, amid the challenges of COVID-19, Jamaica remains ready to do business.
In his maiden presentation to the Sectoral Debate on Tuesday, Dunn said the country continues to embark on targeted initiatives to increase investment.
For the fiscal year ending March 2022, the country’s promotion arm, Jamaica Promotions Corporation, facilitated the start of 42 investment projects across various sectors.
Of that number, 23 were new products launched by local and international investors, while the remaining 19 were expansion projects from existing investors.
Dunn explained that efforts have also been made to improve the ease of conducting business in Jamaica.
“The application and issuance of certificates of origin has been transferred to the digital space. This will allow traders and exporters to benefit from application and use of electronic certificates. With the approval of the CARICOM Customs Committee on January 1, 2022, the trade board launched a three-month pilot to use these electronic certificates, and is now in the extension phase of that pilot,” he detailed.
Dunn reported that the Jamaica Single Window for Trade (JSWIFT) has processed over 62,000 applications since its launch in 2019. Of that amount, 36,000, or 58 per cent, were processed in the recently concluded financial year.
The JSWIFT platform is a web-based solution available to traders that allows importers and exporters to apply for licences, permits, certificates, and other international trade-related documents through a single portal.
The state minister told Parliament that four agencies have been fully onboarded to the JSWIFT platform, two partially, and a further six agencies are to be onboarded in the current fiscal year.
In the 2021/2022 fiscal year, the Companies Office of Jamaica also registered 16,800 business names and 4,983 companies.
These figures represent an increase of 17.59 per cent and 16.56 per cent, respectively, when compared to the previous year.
“There was also a 54 per cent increase in the use of the electronic business registration form to register business names, and a 40 per cent increase in its use for company registration, when compared to the previous year. We must applaud our Jamaicans for their indomitable entrepreneurial spirit,” Dunn said.
Dunn said, in the current fiscal year, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica will provide critical support to the cannabis, castor bean, bamboo, hot pepper and cassava industries, as a means of improving agri-business.
Support will be offered in the form of product testing, standard development, calibration, training, research, profile development, capacity building and value chain development.
The state minister said the Jamaica Business Development Corporation is well advanced in implementing the essential oils incubator, which will provide manufacturing capacity and position Jamaica to tap into the growing lucrative industry.
“During the financial year 2021/22, the JBDC built out the facility, procured the equipment to fully establish a 2,800 square foot incubator. Market research has been completed to identify the essential oils that will be produced,” Dunn said.
He added that stakeholders have been engaged to ensure the success of the incubator, which is set to be operationalised in the second quarter of this fiscal year.