President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) Diane Edwards is imploring businesses who want to begin exporting to conduct sufficient research before entering a market.
“Export is challenging because you really need to understand a market that is not your own; you need to understand the qualifications, the certifications, the requirements of that market, so all our exporters need to become more familiar with markets that they want to target; unfortunately in Caricom, there is a lot of what they call non-tariff barriers, so that means not just import duties but [countries] have other requirements that they force you to comply with to get into their market, ” Edwards told the Jamaica Observer Sunday Finance in a recent interview.
“I think that Jamaican exporters often don’t do their homework, so they do not do the research necessary to understand how to get into the market they want to get into. So quite often they are not ready; they think that they can do this on a hit-or-miss basis when it actually needs a lot of planning,” she continued.
Edwards indicated that while she believes these non-tariff barriers do pose challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises who want to export their products, she added that information on custom duties and requirements are available on the JAMPRO website and Jamaica Trade Information Portal.
According to Edwards, JAMPRO hosts mentorship, business development, sales training, and export promotions workshops to assist companies who want to begin exporting.
“We have a programme called Export Max, which helps companies get into new markets, but it helps with preparing them and making sure that planning and research is done and ready before they spend money to go into a new market,” she said.
Edwards added that JAMPRO is expected to host a digital services sector workshop later this year.
“[It will] look at what jobs are going to be in demand in the future; what are the skill sets we need to be ready for the 21st and the 22nd century,” she said.
“The job market is changing so much and young people are still being advised that they must become lawyers, doctors, and accountants, but there are many other types of jobs that are [information technology] enabled which are going to be in greater demand in the future; so it’s important that people who are advising young people understand these jobs and understand the kinds of skills that we need to build, to be ready for the jobs for the future, “she said.