Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, has pledged to work with the Government and relevant agencies to make the Vision 2030 national development plan more integrated and to see what kinds of projects can be moved forward.
He made the commitment on November 13, while delivering the keynote address at the opening of a two-day symposium at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
While commending the plan, Dr. Panitchpakdi cited a report, which found that it lacks coherence and treats individual services sectors in an ad hoc and fragmented manner. He said that there should be linkages in the services sector in areas such as tourism and the creative industries.
The UNCTAD head further urged Jamaica not to be paranoid with its small size, noting that small size allows for flexibility, pointing to the example of Singapore. “If you get too hang up on it, you will not get over it,” he stated.
Dr. Panitchpakdi said that Jamaica has a “great brand” that is “so precious” and “you have to believe in your brand and you will succeed.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, in his remarks, said Jamaica needs to grow its way out of debt if it is to achieve the goals of the development plan.
“This means that we have to increase our level of production and exports of goods and services,” he said.
He cited the services industry as an area in which Jamaica and other small, vulnerable economies can be competitive. “It is through the effective use of innovation and other resources that there can be added value to the services product,” he stated.
President of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association, Vitus Evans, said Jamaica needs to identify ways to optimize the various trade agreements that have been signed by converting them into business opportunities.
“While we seek to exploit these agreements to our benefit, we should also be looking at new markets and new territories through which to increase our exports. As a country, we have focused heavily on primary products in their natural or processed forms over the years. We now have to make a paradigm shift and explore opportunities for these same products in areas such as medicinal and pharmaceutical, while at the same time, pursuing other markets such as Asia, Africa and South America,” Mr. Evans stated.
The two-day symposium, which is a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade ‘Jamaica 50’ commemorative event, is examining ‘Jamaica’s Involvement in Foreign Trade, 1962-2012: Forging the link between Trade and Development.’
Senator Nicholson announced that the Jamaica 50 legacy project from his Ministry will be a revised National Foreign Trade Policy and a publication on Jamaica’s 50 years in foreign trade.