TOGETHER AS ONE

Jamaica 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

JAMPRO is focused on doing as much as it can to advance projects in crucial sectors for Jamaica's economic growth.

Diane Edwards
BIOGRAPHY
Before joining JAMPRO, Diane Edwards served as General Manager and Director of J. Wray & Nephew UK Ltd., where she successfully grew the UK company’s turnover by 77% over 10 years. Edwards holds an MBA from New York’s Pace University, a master’s in international relations from Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, and is fluent in English, French, Spanish, and German.

How would you describe JAMPRO's new global strategy, in light of the reopening of the New York office?

The reopening of the New York office is significant to our global strategy, as we had no presence in the US, which is our number-one global market for investments and for exports. New York is the best place for us to expand the global reach of our overseas offices, which we already had in London and Toronto. We also have a New Market Development department in Jamaica; it covers new markets for us in Latin America and China, which is important for Jamaica from an investment point of view. These offices and our in-market brokers, who promote specific Jamaican sectors for investments, will be JAMPRO's voices promoting the country internationally. This year, we will execute the economic diplomacy strategy, which will operate through foreign service officers. Thus, we have embassies, high commissions, and honorary consuls across the globe that we will work with much more this year, so Jamaica can have a single message to target investors and buyers of product. This will also make them an extension of JAMPRO to give us greater outreach into the international markets. In addition, we will work heavily on our trade show presence to directly target investors and build global relationships, and we will use more digital marketing as a cost-effective way of reaching investors and a wider audience.

Vision 2030 aims at making Jamaica a developed country by promoting six sectors. In which sectors do you see these results being realized thus far?

All the sectors are definitely experiencing some amazing developments. To start, outsourcing in Jamaica has been experiencing rapid growth over the last five years, with 60 companies and about 35-36,000 people employed in the outsourcing sector. In terms of logistics, our goal is to become the region's logistics center with the actual physical infrastructure build-out. Tourism is growing rapidly, and some 7,000-8,000 hotel rooms are in the pipeline for the coming five years. Kingston is now taking its place as Jamaica's business tourism destination. Mining received a massive investment by JISCO, a steel company out of China. And agriculture is booming, with companies looking at backward linkages. There is a renewed energy to develop the coffee, cocoa, mangoes, and castor industries to meet international demand. We see major local players taking up the mantle of agribusiness, and a few foreign players entering the business as well, with controlled environment agriculture in greenhouses. Agriculture will definitely be one of the shining lights of 2019.

What are the goals for 2019 and what are your expectations for the next JIF to come?

Upskilling the workforce to attract more diversified and higher value outsourcing contracts is a major priority for Jamaica, and through the GSS project we will be able to achieve that. We also want to make Jamaica the logistics center of the Caribbean, and we want to secure tenants for warehousing projects currently being led by companies like the Port Authority of Jamaica. Attracting investments into Jamaica's Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Caymanas, Vernamfield, and St. Elizabeth is also high on my goals for 2019. For tourism, diversification is our main focus. I would like to bring more investment into the eastern part of the island in Portland and Kingston and attract more European Plan hotels to provide an alternative to the all-inclusive properties. JAMPRO is also looking to attract more eco and medical tourism projects and attractions to Jamaica to support the growth of the tourism sector. Agriculture is also high on my list of things to develop for 2019 of products such as coffee, cocoa, sweet potato, scotch bonnet peppers, mango, avocado, bamboo, and castor. We should not forget about the creative industries, which are ripe for disruption. Jamaica needs more managers to oversee its recognized talent in music, film, and animation.