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    Case Study 4: Jamaica 's National Export Strategy


    International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2009 

    Having followed ITC's process and methodology, Jamaica's public and private sectors are convinced that the key to successfully developing and implementing a National Export Strategy is finding the right partners.

    On the private sector side, the perfect partner proved to be the Jamaican Exporters Association (JEA). "We knew that the exporters association could deliver a level of credibility to the private sector that the government just could not" says Lisa Bell, Vice-President of Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), the public body that championed the strategy design process and soon was working in tandem with JEA officials. The strategy design team also included the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

    The NES builds upon Vision 2030 Jamaica, the country's first 25-year National Development Plan which seeks to achieve developed nation status in Jamaica within the next 20 years. Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who launched the export strategy in February 2008, continues to express his support, together with other key leaders, throughout the NES design and implementation.

    Over 80 participants from the private sector were involved in the numerous consultations for each of the priority sectors (agro-processing, aqualculture, coffee, education, entertainment, information communication technology, fashion and minerals). The strategy's focus on non-traditional exports positions the Caribbean island to seek new ways of earning revenues from exports, as profits from traditional sectors sink.

    With the completion of the design stage, the strategy-makers faced a task of achieving widespread support and action to implement the strategy. The next phases of the five year strategy included: a stakeholders workshop to validate strategy, the NES was tabled in Parliament and then in Cabinet, and the NES Secretariat was established in JTI.

    The major business associations were among the representatives of public, private and academic institutions who attended the third stakeholders' workshop to validate the strategy. The strategy also received endorsement and support from trade and commerce bodies, such as the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Jamaica Manufacturers Association, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, and the Small Business Association of Jamaica.
    The Secretariat moved fast to act on the proposals in the strategy and action plans. A resource mobilization meeting held at JTI in November 2009 gave strategy-makers the chance to explain their ambitions to donors.

    The strategy team - and leading politicians - praised ITC for general support as well as technical assistance in conducting the process. JTI found the ITC methodology invaluable as a model in moving government from being a controller to a facilitator and partner of the private sector.

    ITC's team was able to help build consensus, to ensure that ownership of the strategy remained with Jamaica, provide for dialogue on many contentious issues, and bring in experience from other countries on how others had proceeded. Others on JTI's staff found the ITC's ability to talk the language that business managers could understand gave instant credibility to proposals and explanations, while professional commitment to the process - particularly from ITC staff with experience elsewhere of the difficulties and opportunities Jamaica faces - gave the strategy-makers essential encouragement in difficult times.