GLOBAL INSIGHT / Jamaica report 2020

The best place to do business in the Caribbean

GLOBAL INSIGHT

Jamaica’s successful economy, strategic location, connectivity, natural resources, cultural status and pro-business approach make it the ideal investment destination.

The third-largest island in the Caribbean’s diverse economy has grown every year since 2013, with its gross domestic product (GDP) rising by 1.5 percent in 2018. “Our economy is in an excellent position. In 2018, exports grew by 43 percent to $1.3 billion, business confidence has increased by 24 percent recently and Jamaica has received over $6 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last decade,” said Diane Edwards, president of Jamaica Promotions Corp. (JAMPRO), the investment and export promotion agency.

The country’s economic success has intensified since Andrew Holness was elected as prime minister in 2016. “The government has put in place platforms that will bring prosperity for all in Jamaica,” said Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw. These include reformed frameworks for taxes and the public sector that have generated economic stability. “Our mantra has been fiscal prudence. We have brought our debt-to-GDP ratio down 36 percent to 96 percent and plan to get it to 60 percent within five years,” stated Edwards.

Jamaica has many advantages for investors, especially its location. “We are between North, South and Central America, with a market of 800 million consumers within four hours of our shores. We are also directly north of the Panama Canal and have one of only two Caribbean ports that can receive the world’s largest ships,” she said. That port is part of a substantial network of transport and logistics infrastructure that is being significantly expanded to enable Jamaica to boost its position as a global hub for logistics and other industries.

The island contains numerous natural resources. It has a well-established mining industry and reserves of valuable minerals. It also has the ideal climate for agriculture, which when combined with agricultural manufacturing provides 15 percent of GDP.

“Many of our products are world-class, including our coffee, cocoa, ginger and pimento,” noted Edwards. “The export markets for our crops and goods made from them are growing as more people around the world demand the flavors of Jamaica,” added Shaw. As well as servicing this demand, the country is diversifying into new crops and along the value chain of the sugar that makes its famous rums. The beauty of the lands these crops are harvested from, as well as its idyllic beaches, have helped make Jamaica a capital of tourism. “Our brand is known worldwide — Jamaica is a global cultural symbol,” Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said. That culture has been forged by the creativity of Jamaicans, who have shaped the world’s music, sport, film and other industries. “Jamaicans also make up the third-largest English-speaking population in the western hemisphere. That has attracted 60 global companies to our business process outsourcing (BPO) companies — which is now valued at over $400 million — including IBM, Xerox and Conduit,” Edwards stated.

Those companies are also drawn by pro-business policies. Jamaica is the best Caribbean country to do business in and is sixth in the world for starting a business, according to the World Bank. “Our investment climate is very liberal. Foreigners are allowed to own land, repatriate all profits, we have no exchange control, have double-taxation and investment-protection treaties with 12 countries including Japan and offer excellent incentives,” said Edwards. According to Bartlett: “Japanese companies have already invested in, for example, our tourism, energy and automotive sectors. We would welcome further collaborations with Japan.”