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Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, is a very large market and every Jamaican business worth its name would want to export its products to this market. There is a kind of cultural synergy among the countries that constitute CARICOM plus these are the nearest markets to cater to. There are, however, a lot of challenges in this and businesses on the island would want the government to play a proactive role. Prime Minister Andrew Holness, while interacting with some business heads last week addressed this issue but there were no clear policy pronunciations coming forth.
PM Agrees There Are Difficulties
PM Holness was at Bog Walk, St Catherine, where he commissioned the Dairy Plant of Seprod. He mentioned during his interaction with the business leaders assembled there that he understood it was not easy pushing their products in the region. There was also the particular mention of Trinidad & Tobago, which is purposefully blocking Jamaican products. Ironically, Trinidad & Tobago is the largest trading partner for Jamaica within CARICOM. Andrew Holness is familiar with CARICOM having been its Chairman till as late as December 2018. Jamaica also provides the largest market to businesses from other countries within the Community.
Jamaican Businesses Have to Be Very Competitive
The Prime Minister then referred to the Seprod Dairy that he inaugurated that day to exhort the Jamaican businesses to improve the quality of their products. This new integrated dairy has contracts from Nestle to make products which the international giant will sell within the other Caribbean countries. There are other buyers from Latin America they are still in negotiations with. The PM said this in his address that it is easier for Jamaican companies to sell to some of the other markets like Nigeria. However, the bottom line is that the products manufactured on the island have to measure up to international standards and their pricing also has to be competitive. The PM felt that would make the products acceptable to the CARICOM markets. The Seprod Group has definitely made a lot of progress in capturing some lucrative markets. They have sent a good part of $7 billion in getting this plant up and ready.
The Chairman of the Group also felt the government could provide the support needed by the Jamaican businesses in achieving their objectives. It is for the government to come up with the appropriate announcements on what it can do in this direction.