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Ja Chamber of Commerce charts new path

By Josimer Scott
Observer writer

Sunday, November 04, 2018

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The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), over the next few months, will explore new frontiers in Africa and Latin America in order to “improve export-led growth” among its membership.

JCC CEO Trevor Fearon, speaking to the Jamaica Observer recently after a business forum themed 'Doing Business with Ecuador', said: “What we're trying to do is to see how we can create forums to link our producers, as well as our importers and distributors with sources in other markets, other jurisdictions.”

He added, “There are Jamaican firms that have a lot of import requirements; as you know, raw materials, semi-finished goods, etc. So if we can find countries where they can source those inputs at competitive rates, it makes sense for us to work alongside them.”

The business forum, hosted by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce at its office on Half-Way-Tree Road, provided an opportunity for representatives from Ecuador to introduce products and opportunities for Jamaican firms looking to import.

For his part, Trade Commissioner of Ecuador in Cuba Marlon Banegas Andrade, during his presentation, informed the gathering of PRO ECUADOR and eEcuador — the first, an equivalent to Jampro, is an organisation responsible for export promotion, while the second is an online business-to-business platform that connects global buyers with that country's suppliers and producers.

Banegas Andrade also invited member firms present at the JCC forum to participate in the South American country's Macrorrueda de Negocios (Business Matchmaking Ecuador), which takes place in the largest city, Guayaquil.

According to www.proecuadorb2b.com, it is a business networking platform “where the main representatives of the productive industries that stimulate Ecuadorian foreign trade, are promoting an exportable offer of premium quality”. In 2017, the event brought together more than 171 international companies, from 34 countries and achieved 4,915 business appointments with about 607 Ecuadorian companies, in two days. Exports for participating businesses increased between 2016 and 2017 by 12.1 per cent.

However, when a member at the JCC Business Forum raised the issue of reciprocity, Fearon was quick to point out that the aim of the forum was for members to ponder the possibilities of trade — not just to buy. He also indicated that the organisation would “explore outgoing missions to Ecuador”.

“This is just the opening phase… we see great potential,” he stated.

When asked by Sunday Finance if the JCC would honour the invitation to attend Macrorrueda de Negocios, Fearon responded, “That may happen in the future. Our route is going to be creating linkages with the chambers of commerce in these countries... So that's the relationship that we would use with the chambers of commerce.”

In an effort to engage with other national business interest groups, Fearon explained, a delegation from Jamaica would visit the respective countries, and then representatives from those countries would visit Jamaica in return.

“We would be looking at getting our people into export markets [and] our preferred route would be to work with the private sector in these countries,” he said, choosing not to specify which countries.

“I can't tell you the names because we haven't gotten to that part yet but, trust me, it's going to be happening in the next few months, both in Latin America and South America and in Africa.”

This new direction, however, was first announced two days earlier, Tuesday last, by Lloyd Distant Jr after he was inducted at the JCC's annual general meeting, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

The new president in his acceptance speech revealed that the business group would be “using our leverage with the International Chamber of Commerce, as well as the network of the Caribbean chambers to identify and take advantage of opportunities outside of Jamaica”.

Distant had also urged members to “continue to look beyond our borders towards growing their businesses”, while indicating that the JCC would collaborate with the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association to advocate “for those things that are necessary to improve export-led growth”.

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