Expo Jamaica 2016 has attracted more than 450 exhibitors and 500 buyers, Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) President Michelle Chong has revealed.
The annual show, which will come to a close tonight, has grown to the point where overflow exhibitors have had to set up their booths inside the National Indoor Sports Centre, next door to the traditional venue, the National Arena in Kingston.
Chong told the Jamaica Observer on Thursday’s opening night that the 500 buyers represented organisations from major trading partners the USA, Canada, and United Kingdom, as well as India.
One such organisation is the Birmingham Commonwealth Association in the UK. Martin Levermore, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, stated that the group wants to work with Jamaica, in particular the city of Kingston, to “internationalise the triple helix effect, making the Commonwealth less exclusive and more inclusive for Jamaica”.
The triple helix effect, he explained, meant having more interaction and exchange between Jamaica’s private and public sectors and academia with people in Birmingham and, by extension, the United Kingdom and greater Commonwealth.
Levermore grew up in Jamaica and attended Haile Selassie High School.
Meanwhile, Chong underscored that the aim of Expo Jamaica 2016 is to properly match local suppliers with international buyers.
“This is where Jampro (Jamaica Promotions Corporation) comes in,” Chong told the Sunday Observer, adding that the Government agency, being one of the partners involved in the expo, matches local suppliers with buyers based on the proportion of the demand and the ability to supply.
“I am pleasantly surprised by all the display and the packaging,” Chong said, while noting that, based on feedback, product packaging and display had attracted the interest of some buyers.
She, however, lamented that despite the visual appeal of some products, they did not carry the Jamaica brand. The JEA president had earlier said that in order to increase exports we cannot downplay the “critical” role that Jamaican culture plays, but rather we should exploit it for “leveraging products”.
“I think the biggest thing in culture that we cannot overlook is our brand – Jamaica. A lot of products have nice packaging, but no brand,” Chong said.
Her views were similar to those expressed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in his address to the opening ceremony.
“The Jamaican name is an asset that we need to exploit and explore more, and we have well-trained human resources and a human capital base that we must use for economic growth and job creation,” the prime minister said.
His Administration, he said, stands ready to support the manufacturing and export sectors.
He pointed out, too, that if Jamaica is to have an export market then “we have to ensure that our foreign policy is in line with our export strategy”.
Holness said that while he recognises that “the window of opportunity for Jamaica’s development is closing rapidly”, his Government is working to address this challenge.
He said that by this week Jamaica will have two growth ambassadors – one to India and the Middle East, and the other to Europe.
Contributed by: JOSIMAR SCOTT Sunday Observer writer
Source: Jamaica Observer
Published Date: April 17th, 2016
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