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Jamaica Investment Forum 2018: This Caribbean island means business

Written By | Jun 13, 2018

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica: Think of Jamaica. Then think of Dubai, then Singapore. Just like Apple, Coke and McDonalds, nations have brands. While a clear brand can push consumers to a firm’s product, if the firm changes its emphasis, the established brand can be a hindrance.

When people think of Dubai, they often think of the Burj Al Arab, Dubai’s iconic seven-star hotel. They may think of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world since its completion in 2008. Dubai has rebranded itself from bland, Persian Gulf city to luxury tourist destination and booming center of trade and business. Its image is of luxury and modernity.

When they think of Singapore, people likewise think of hyper-modernity. Singapore is a city of daring architecture, renowned for its friendliness to business and its cleanliness. Singapore is one of the top ten countries in the world to do business and a nightmare for obsessive gum chewers.

When you think of Jamaica, you almost certainly think of Bob Marley, reggae, bobsledders and Sandal’s Beach Resorts. Jamaica’s brand is fun on the sand. But its more.

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The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO)

What its brand isn’t is technology, good government and the ease of doing business. The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) thinks it should be though and wants to adjust the island country’s brand away from its tourism, island image. JAMPRO President Diane Edwards want you to know, Jamaica means business.

2018 Jamaica Investment Forum

JAMPRO is hosting the third Jamaica Investment Forum this week in Montego Bay. JIF 2018 has brought together government officials, business leaders, investors and business professionals from across the Caribbean and North America. JAMPRO is showing off the progress Jamaica has made in economic stabilization, IT infrastructure, legal and regulatory reforms and human capital investment.

And that progress is impressive.

Tourism is and always will be important to Jamaica’s economy. The nation is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches and landscape in the Caribbean. Its people are friendly (and the primary language here is English), the food outstanding, the music legendary.

But Jamaica has much more to offer.

The government has made impressive strides over the last ten years to bring down national debt, unemployment, and inflation, with especially impressive progress over the last three years. The inflation rate is under 4 percent, below the central bank’s target band, and it has trended at or below official targets for the last three years.

Youth unemployment, still high at over 20 percent, has fallen by 8 percent; the rural poverty rate is also several points lower than it was three years ago, and debt has fallen from over 150 percent of GDP to just over 100 percent.

The government is well on its way to its target of a 60 percent debt to GDP ratio.

Over the next week, Communities Digital News will present a series of articles on Jamaica and its economy. We will look at the tourism industry, but also at agriculture and food processing, business process outsourcing, shipping, energy and the statistics on macroeconomic stabilization.

Jamaica is fun, but it means business.

Jim Picht

James Picht is the Senior Editor for Communities Politics. He teaches economics and Russian at the Louisiana Scholars' College in Natchitoches, La. After earning his doctorate in economics, he spent several years doing economic development work in Moscow and the new independent states of the former Soviet Union for the U.S. government, the Asian Development Bank, and as a private contractor. He has also worked in Latin America, the former USSR and the Balkans as an educator, teaching courses in economics and law at universities in Ukraine and at finance ministries throughout the region. He has been writing at the Communities since 2009.