Jamaica Information Service
KINGSTON (JIS) — An estimated 150 local and overseas investors are expected to converge in the second city of Montego Bay in March, when the country stages its second major investment forum.
Jamaica Investment Forum (JIF) 2015 will again place Jamaica centre stage as the preferred investment destination in the Caribbean.
The international conference will be held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre from March 10 to 12 and will showcase key growth sectors and significant investment opportunities on the island.
Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, said the event is being held at a time when Jamaica has recorded significant improvements in its global investment outlook.
“Jamaica’s profile as a credible business and investment destination is clearly rising. Opportunities are plenty and investor confidence is high and growing,” the Minister noted.
He was speaking at the official launch of the three-day forum at the J. Wray and Nephew headquarters in New Kingston, on January 22.
The country has received several endorsements from the international community regarding its global business ranking in recent times.
Chief among these is a 64th place ranking out of 146 nations on the 2014 Forbes Best Countries for Business Report. This makes Jamaica the best country in the Caribbean region to do business, and third in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Jamaica also improved its ranking in the 2014 Doing Business Report with a significant jump from 94 to 58.
Additionally, the country moved eight places up the Global Competitiveness Index for 2014/15, and is now ranked 86th out of 144 countries, compared to 94th out of 148 countries in the 2013/14 report, and 97th out of 144 the previous year.
Mr. Hylton said he expects that with these upgrades, the 2015 forum will result in even greater inflows of foreign direct investments (FDIs)into Jamaica.
The last JIF staged in 2012 targeted 75 international investors, but saw over 100 attending and advanced some US$500 million in foreign investment projects.
The Minister noted that international investor interest in the island has increased significantly within the last few years, with FDI inflows moving from US$211 million in 2011 to more than US$561 million in 2013.
He said both local and foreign direct investments continue to play a significant role in the economic development of the country.
“It is through the steady growth of investments that the economy will get onto a sustainable growth path,” the Minister argued.
Meanwhile, President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, said the event forms an important part of the government’s thrust to expand its relationships with international business leaders.
It also aims to build awareness about Jamaica as a place to do business and mobilise investment in strategic sectors of the economy.
“Our strategy is to immerse these investors in a forum that pairs carefully constructed plenary and breakout sessions with ample opportunity for networking and experiencing the Jamaican business proposition,” she said.
Mrs. Edwards said the response from investors to date has been promising, confirming that well over half of the available spaces have already been secured by companies from as far as Turkey, Dubai and South Africa.
In his remarks, JAMPRO Chairman, Milton Samuda, said JIF 2015 is the country’s opportunity to present to the world a side of Brand Jamaica, which is not often publicised.
“Jamaica is, after all, more than beaches, reggae music, and it is more than the world’s greatest sprinters. It is a sophisticated business environment ready for business,” he said.
For her part, Country Representative, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Therese Turner-Jones, said it is a good time for both local and foreign investors to do business in Jamaica.
She noted that in addition to Jamaica’s improved macro-economic and business environment, the significant reduction in global oil prices have also helped to create a much more enabling climate for investors.
“I think investors who are thinking about doing business in Jamaica would be very interested and very keen to jump on the fact that energy prices are a fraction of what they were a few months ago,” she said.
Predicting that energy prices will stay low for about another three years, Mrs. Turner-Jones said this is a great opportunity for manufacturers who wish to invest in Jamaica.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller will head a high-profile slate of local and international speakers at the forum. Others include Senior Director for Global Practice on Trade and Competitiveness at the World Bank, Anabel Gonzalez; Senior Vice President of Product Design and Service at Vistaprint, Jon Habeski; and Head of Export Finance at Commerzbank AG, Jacques Nyssen.
The three-day conference is being spearheaded by JAMPRO, Jamaica’s trade and investment agency, in partnership with a number of local and international companies, including IDB, Digicel, Commerzbank, Scotia Bank, Development Bank of Jamaica, Hyatt Ziva, Wray and Nephew, and First Global Bank.