The Jamaica Promotions Corporation building on Trafalgar Road in New Kingston, Jamaica. (File photo)

JAMPRO refocuses strategy on post-COVID-19 economy

The Jamaica Promotions Corporation building on Trafalgar Road in New Kingston, Jamaica. (File photo)

The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) will be implementing strategic measures to mitigate the threats of coronavirus (COVID-19) to the local business community.

In a statement outlining the agency’s response to the pandemic, chairman of JAMPRO Senator Don Wehby noted, “Faced with this national crisis, which threatens our economy, JAMPRO is developing a set of new measures to bolster growth in the economy. As Jamaica’s economic development agency, JAMPRO must support our most innovative and creative businesses to expand their production and access new markets, while continuing to build a more business-friendly environment.”

Chairman of Jamaica Promotions Corporation Senator Don Wehby (File photo)

Wehby, also the CEO of GraceKennedy Group, anticipates that the impacts of COVID-19 will result in a transformation in “our way of doing business”. As such, he argues that Jamaica must prepare for emerging trends in a post-COVID-19 economy, such as buying local, more health-conscious consumption, increasing demand for nutraceuticals, rising e-commerce, and expanding digital and online solutions.

Trends and opportunities

In keeping with these trends, the JAMPRO chairman said ramping up the agency’s efforts to help local businesses take advantage of new opportunities. Among them:

  • Increasing our support of the agribusiness sector to attract and facilitate new technology-driven investment, as well as, facilitate linkages between farmers, manufacturers, and service providers.  We must increase production to improve food security, raise productivity and create sustainable value-added food products.
  • Driving the conversion to a digital economy, by upskilling our young people during this e-learning stay at home opportunity and accelerating the development of a National Digital Services Strategy
  • Improving our service and relevance to local businesses, who must become the drivers of Jamaica’s economic recovery, particularly with global FDI expected to fall by 5.0 per cent to 15 per cent.
  • Increasing government coordination with organisations like the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and Sugar Company Holdings to pool our resources in developing coherent strategies to sustain and drive the economy during and after the crisis period, respectively.
  • Stepping up our advocacy to Government on behalf of the productive sector and enhancing our programme of improvements to the business environment.
  • Partnering with bodies like the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) and the Scientific Research Council to develop new products for the post-COVID world.
  • Facilitating the sustaining of business operations by unearthing commercial opportunities and connecting business players across key sectors to drive these opportunities.  
  • Exploring the challenges regionally to determine how Jamaica can support commercial activities through collaboration with our Caribbean neighbours as we all grapple with the potential impact of the virus on sectors like tourism.
Jamaica Promotions Corporation will provide help to its clients engaged in export.
(Photo: Cruise Timetable)

While acknowledging that JAMPRO’s measures are not exhaustive, Wehby said the agency will explore other innovative strategies to “facilitate investment and export, while advocating to improve the business environment of Jamaica.

“We are ready to support our clients on their investment projects or export opportunities — and we are looking at ways to identify and secure new opportunities for them,” the businessman continued.

Supporting Government

Wehby also commended the Government of Jamaica for putting in place measures to stem the spread of the pandemic, including increasing testing and enhancing the capacity of treatment facilities.

“The Government has also put many fiscal measures in place to protect the economic gains that have been made so that Jamaica can return to its growth agenda after addressing this health crisis and any resulting shock to the economy,” he stated.

Prime Minister Andrew of Jamaica Holness addressing concerns about coronavirus during a recent press conference. (Photo: JIS)

Notwithstanding, the JAMPRO chairman emphasised that the impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented and, therefore, committed to closely monitoring the global economy so as to better advise clients of investment and export conditions. He also urged Jamaicans to closely follow the Government of Jamaica’s social distancing guidelines and observed enhanced hygienic practices.

“Our island was on the cusp of making major economic breakthroughs, but we are now suddenly facing the challenge of our lifetime, a challenge that affects Jamaica’s greatest asset: the well-being of its people,” Wehby said.