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Expo Jamaica looks to boost buyer attendance

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is seeking to bolster buyer participation in its upcoming Expo Jamaica 2016.

Through its ‘Buyers’ Programme’, the agency is inviting potential buyers to visit the show and have meaningful business-to-business discussions with local producers and service providers.

Already, over 470 buyers have registered for the April 14 to 17 event, with 265 of these being locals. The international buyers are expected from the United States of America, the Caribbean, Europe, Canada, Asia and Africa.

Manager for market development at JAMPRO, Berletta Henlon Forrester, noted that the Buyers’ Programme creates an avenue for exhibitors to increase linkages and forge business and trade relations with local and international buyers.

“The Buyers’ Programme, which is the trade element of Expo Jamaica, is about exposing Jamaica’s products and services to buyers, that is, distributors, importers, retailers, wholesalers and these are people from Jamaica and all over the world,” Henlon Forrester pointed out.

She noted that the programme not only targets the traditional buyers but also procurement officers in various institutions such as government ministries, departments and agencies; hospitals; schools and the security forces.

The market development manager is inviting buyers to visit Expo Jamaica “to see what Jamaica has on show.”

“You will find that many of the products that you are probably importing from overseas markets are made right here in Jamaica and are of very good quality,” she pointed out.

Expo Jamaica will be held at two venues – the National Arena and the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston.

To be highlighted at the event are: art and craft, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), business and other services, chemicals, construction, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, food and agro/fresh produce/processed foods, furniture and bedding, information and communications technology (ICT), minerals and metals, printing, packaging and labelling, textile and apparel.

The first two days of the Expo will be designated for the buyers, giving them the opportunity to interact with the exhibitors in a quiet environment that is conducive to business. All buyers must be registered in order to participate in the Expo.

“We will organise your meetings for you and you are free to roam the floors, interact with the exhibitors, sit and meet with them; examine the products, sample them. We have designated meeting spaces and, ultimately, what we want is for our buyers and exhibitors to transact business,” Henlon Forrester explained.

She said follow-up after the event is important in order to ensure that those early discussions between buyers and the exhibitors result in actual business transactions.

Over 500 buyers were registered for the last event held in 2014, with 230 exhibitors and 15,000 consumers.

There were approximately 100 trade leads coming out of Expo Jamaica 2014, with over 65 percent converted to real world business transactions

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Tensions with T&T overshadow Jamaica Expo

Continuing tensions between Jamaica and T&T are forming part of the backdrop to Thursday’s launch of Expo Jamaica 2016—the country’s largest trade exposition.

Organisers have estimated that during the four days of showcasing locally-manufactured products, up to US$2.5 million in business will be generated.

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) William Mahfood has called for restrictions on T&T imports in the face of what he claims was a breach of the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy (CSME) when a group of Jamaican visitors were turned back at Piarco International Airport on March 21.

The PSOJ is not directly involved in the event, but many of its members have signed up for the mammoth exposition.

A Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) animated public service video entitled Jamaica wins again, released online last week, maintained the high pitch of responses to the development.

A JMA release has described the T&T immigration stance as “divisive” since “the goal of hassle-free movement is an enshrined right which must not be held to the whims and fancies of any individual or Member State.”

The JMA video depicts three competitors in a race against imported products featuring competitors clad in the national colours of T&T, Barbados and Jamaica.

The race commentator calls on spectators to supports things made in Jamaica in order to create more jobs and give people money to spend. In the end “Jamaica wins!” exclaims the commentator.

Yesterday, Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) vice president Paul Lewis referred to Jamaica’s “valued trading partners in Caricom” saying Expo organisers welcomed the country’s regional business connections this week.

“Like our cricketers last week at the T20 and our athletes, musicians and varied talents, we will continue to punch above our weight in providing champion goods and services to our valued trading partners around the Caricom region and globally,” he told the T&T Guardian.

“We are looking forward to welcoming them all to Jamaica this week...and are thrilled at the business and export opportunities that will come to light from this dynamic exposition.”

“Champion breakthroughs, champion goods and service, champion regional and global trade. That’s the agenda.” Lewis said.

Several business representatives from T&T are due to attend the expo under the theme The Business Hub of the Caribbean.

It is a collaboration involving the country’s major business groupings including the JMA, JEA, state run JAMPRO Trade and Investment Jamaica.

Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, has been quoted as saying talks with T&T Foreign Minister Dennis Moses have begun in an attempt to resolve the issue “at the political level.”

Courtesy: Trinidad Guardian
By: Wesley Gibbings

IDB study says $1.8 billion needed to end poor housing conditions in the Caribbean

Approximately US$1.8 billion would be needed to end poor housing conditions currently endured by 1 million residents in The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, according to a new Inter-American Development Bank report, The State of Housing in Six Caribbean Countries.

The report, which analyzed the implementation of social housing programs in the Caribbean from 2000 to 2015, underscores the importance of housing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the larger agenda in poverty alleviation, economic development, and climate resilience.

Rapid urbanization has created a housing deficit in Caribbean, prompting a large share of the population to live in informal settlements that are disproportionately affected by landslides, flooding, and storm surges, the report says. Moreover, the absence of efficiently functioning land markets, inaccurate property registries, and land disputes have compounded the problem and slowed the pace of housing programs.

“Improving housing conditions in the Caribbean can have large impacts on poverty reduction, improving lives of a significant share of the population,” said Michael G. Donovan, IDB senior housing and urban development specialist, one of the authors of the study. “The IDB and the Caribbean have been working together on several projects to help solve this challenge. However, more needs to be done. With this book, we expect to help the region develop a comprehensive urban agenda so countries can achieve their sustainable development goals.”

The study says that Caribbean governments need to incorporate into their social housing programs measures to protect homes against rising sea level because half of the population in the region lives within five kilometers from the coastline.

“As the Caribbean urbanizes, it will be also critically important to incorporate risk reduction into the location and design of social housing,” said Pauline McHardy, Jamaican urban planner, another author of the report.

According to the report, several housing ministries in the region are adopting new designs to increase the resilience of coastal housing, improving building codes and ensuring that floor levels of social housing are above recorded flood levels. Elevating homes in flood-prone areas saves $15 for every $1 invested because governments do not need to rebuild infrastructure.

Supporting the Caribbean to confront urban challenges and increase economic vitality of cities is central to the Bank’s mission in the region. The IDB has provided over US$700 million in long-term financing to support urban programs in the Caribbean since 1968.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

IDB study says $1.8 billion needed to end poor housing conditions in the Caribbean

Approximately US$1.8 billion would be needed to end poor housing conditions currently endured by 1 million residents in The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, according to a new Inter-American Development Bank report, The State of Housing in Six Caribbean Countries.

The report, which analyzed the implementation of social housing programs in the Caribbean from 2000 to 2015, underscores the importance of housing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the larger agenda in poverty alleviation, economic development, and climate resilience.

Rapid urbanization has created a housing deficit in Caribbean, prompting a large share of the population to live in informal settlements that are disproportionately affected by landslides, flooding, and storm surges, the report says. Moreover, the absence of efficiently functioning land markets, inaccurate property registries, and land disputes have compounded the problem and slowed the pace of housing programs.

“Improving housing conditions in the Caribbean can have large impacts on poverty reduction, improving lives of a significant share of the population,” said Michael G. Donovan, IDB senior housing and urban development specialist, one of the authors of the study. “The IDB and the Caribbean have been working together on several projects to help solve this challenge. However, more needs to be done. With this book, we expect to help the region develop a comprehensive urban agenda so countries can achieve their sustainable development goals.”

The study says that Caribbean governments need to incorporate into their social housing programs measures to protect homes against rising sea level because half of the population in the region lives within five kilometers from the coastline.

“As the Caribbean urbanizes, it will be also critically important to incorporate risk reduction into the location and design of social housing,” said Pauline McHardy, Jamaican urban planner, another author of the report.

According to the report, several housing ministries in the region are adopting new designs to increase the resilience of coastal housing, improving building codes and ensuring that floor levels of social housing are above recorded flood levels. Elevating homes in flood-prone areas saves $15 for every $1 invested because governments do not need to rebuild infrastructure.

Supporting the Caribbean to confront urban challenges and increase economic vitality of cities is central to the Bank’s mission in the region. The IDB has provided over US$700 million in long-term financing to support urban programs in the Caribbean since 1968.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Multi-million dollar project to get Jamaican produce sold in US cities

Jamaica’s farmers are set to benefit from a US$29-million pilot project, which will see more local produce being sold in cities across the United States.

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) has partnered with the US-based National Association of Christian Educators (NACE) to embark on the project, which will initially benefit 10 farmers in St. Ann for one year.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by both entities yesterday. Under the agreement, the farmers will be supplying three cities in the US with vegetables such as turnip greens, sweet potatoes, string beans, okra, cabbage, bell peppers, sweet peppers, carrots, cucumbers, Irish potatoes, corn, squash and onions.

The NACE has provided loan funds, which the farmers will be able to access through the local banks and credit unions.
The farmers are expected to start planting on May 1, with reaping to begin within 45 to 90 days. Export of the produce is slated to get underway in June.

The goods will be sent to Nashville, Tennessee where they will be sorted, then sent via 18-wheeler trucks to Detroit, St. Louis and Oklahoma City twice a week.

President of NACE, Dr Amos Jones, said through this partnership, Jamaica will become the “bread basket for the food deserts of the US.”

Pointing to the significance of this arrangement, Dr. Amos said it will enable more residents of inner city areas in the US to access fresh produce.

He noted that food market chains have been pulling out of these areas, leaving persons to travel long distances to purchase produce.

As such he said, the arrangement will foster “the development of agriculture and agri-business in Jamaica, and the supply of nutritional foods in the inner cities of the US.”

Dr Amos informed that in the initial phase of the project the produce will be sold through farmers’ markets at various locations.

“We will probably conclude that pilot aspect in about six months and that’s when we will expand this operation. We are going to refine the process so that there is no glitch in the process,” he noted.

Dr Amos said that after the pilot phase the business will also be opened up to more farmers across Jamaica.

President of the JAS, Norman Grant, said the project will provide ample opportunity for Jamaica’s farmers to develop a marketing culture to provide high value and top quality farm produce.

He noted that the JAS, through its central marketing system, the Jamaica Agricultural Society Commercial Enterprise Limited (JASCEL), will be contracting farmers to produce “A-grade” agricultural products for the US market.

“So, we will sell to them (US market) directly. We will be that intermediary between the farmers and NACE,” he said.

“We are very excited about this transaction because the MoU is based on a spirit of co-operation and mutual benefit to both parties and the extended farming sector.”

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

CARICOM in banking talks with US

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne is leading a Caribbean delegation for discussions with United States authorities on the threat of the withdrawal of correspondent banking services that could destroy the region’s financial sector.

Caribbean countries are facing the loss of access to the international financial markets by mainly the region’s indigenous banks, with several international banks—primarily in the US and Europe—signalling to client banks in the region an unwillingness to continue carrying their business.

Correspondent banks are financial institutions that provide services on behalf of another financial institution. They are used by banks in one country to conduct business in a foreign country.

Browne, as agreed by Caricom heads in February, is leading a high-level advocacy group at the US-Caribbean Public-Private Dialogue on Correspondent Banking in Jamaica.

“I intend to forcefully put forward Caricom’s position on this matter to the US authorities because I believe we are being treated unfairly,” Browne said in a statement about his plans for the meeting in Jamaica.

“We have been labelled as tax havens and accused of lax tax regimes and avenues for money laundering and terrorism financing, yet there is absolutely no evidence to support these allegations…In all instances where banks and financial institutions have to pay penalties on such matters, not one Caricom nation has ever been involved. This cannot be right, it cannot be just.”

The move by global banks threatens to impact several critical services including remittance transfers. International trade, the facilitation of credit card settlements for local clients are among the other effects the region faces.

Courtesy: Trinidad Guardian

Chamber not in support of boycotting trade with Trinidad and Tobago

The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) says it does not support a call for a boycott of goods from Trinidad and Tobago following the latest incident regarding the decision by Immigration officials in Port of Spain to refuse entry of 12 Jamaicans last month.

“(We need to) explore the other avenues before we reach that stage. My initial reaction is to let’s sit down and reason this thing out and if we can’t get anywhere we will go to the next step,” JCC president Warren McDonald said on RJR radio.

The Trinidad and Tobago government has since said that the Jamaicans were denied entry because it felt that they would be a “charge” on the public purse.

Last week, President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), William Mahfood, said Jamaica should consider using its influence within CARICOM until Trinidad and Tobago honours its obligations under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the regional integration grouping.

“We need to stand up for our own rights as a country and we need to say to Trinidad , if you don’t allow us access to your country, whether it is to freely move within CARICOM (Caribbean Community) then you won’t have access to our market,” he added.

President of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) Metry Seaga, is also calling for a re-examination of the CSME.

“It’s not working the way it was meant to work. We cannot pick and choose the parts of it that we want to implement and leave out the parts that we don’t. If people are going to Trinidad and being turned back, then we have a serious problem… “

Jamaica is the fourth largest market for goods from Trinidad and Tobago and buys approximately US$500 million of goods from the oil-rich twin island republic.

Courtesy: Antigua Observer

There are no personal issues between CARICOM and WICB, says Grenada PM

By Michael Bascombe

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- Prime minister of Grenada and chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Sub-committee on Cricket Governance, Dr Keith Mitchell, has reiterated that there are no personal issues between regional leaders and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

Mitchell was reacting to comments made by West Indies Twenty20 (T20) captain Darren Sammy following the team’s historic four-wicket victory over England to win the International Cricket Council (ICC) World T20 Tournament on Sunday in Kolkata, India.

The men’s championship followed the West Indies Women winning the WT20 title for the first time by beating Australia by eight wickets in the final.

Sammy used his post-match interview to thank CARICOM leaders and particularly Mitchell for an “inspiring email” to the team ahead of the final against England.

“I really want to thank the heads of CARICOM, throughout this tournament they have been supporting the team, we’ve got emails, we’ve got phone calls, Prime Minister [Keith] Mitchell [from Grenada]. He sent a very inspiring email for the team this morning … and I’m yet to hear from our own cricket board. That is very disappointing,” he said.

In an interview with GrenadaSports, Mitchell said that the prime ministers are above that sort of personality issue and are concerned about the future of West Indies cricket.

“We have a problem with the running and the structure of West Indies cricket. It’s beyond personality – that’s our problem. As I told you before it’s historic. It’s not about softening our position. It’s a principled position for what is best for West Indies cricket in the future. So whether it’s Keith Mitchell or Dave Cameron, it’s not the personality. These are irrelevant,” he said.

The Grenadian leader, who has been a leading advocate for reforms at the WICB, maintains that the structure of West Indies has to change.

“The whole system must change if we are to make sure that we use the talent appropriately and that the best talent emerges and given the support.”

He said that the victories by both the men and women on Sunday are an indication of the talents in the region and the need to provide support at all levels.

“What you saw there was a motivation to succeed for themselves and the Caribbean people despite the treatment by the Board. If you give support to the players at all levels, you will have success because we have the talents,” Mitchell told GrenadaSports.

He said it’s sad that today the West Indies can’t even be part of a one-day tournament in the world with the same players who have won the T20 tournament.

“If you play the best team possible and you don’t deal with issues of whether one criticise you or not, you might find that we will still be successful in the one-day competition and we will have a better Test team if you just play everybody based on their capabilities and performance.”

Sammy described the victory as ‘sweet and sour’ since he doesn’t know when the team will play that format of the game as a unit again.

“For today, I’m going to celebrate with these 15 men and coaching staff. I don’t know when I’m going to be playing with these guys again because we don’t get selected for one-day cricket. We don’t know when we’re going to be playing T20.”

In a statement from the WICB, it congratulated the performances of the teams on Sunday. The board described the men’s performance as electric and exciting.

“The men, women and under-19 teams within the last three months have made the West Indies a region worthy of tremendous attention by being the best at the international level in World Cricket,” according to the statement quoting CEO Michael Muirhead and president Dave Cameron.

“We are indeed a proud set of people today and we want to thank all of you for your tremendous support. The men’s team has been electric and exciting in their performances during the tournament and we are all proud.”

“This is a defining moment for cricket and we ought to thank each and every one of our directors, management, staff and supporters for the support West Indies cricket has received.

“This is a truly ecstatic moment and we are indeed proud of this momentous achievement. The T20 format is a springboard to the other formats and we will use this as an opportunity to continue the development work we have to do to make the overall cricket product better. The men executed their comprehensive plan and we are pleased with the results,” it stated.

This is the third global title West Indies cricketers have won this year following the World Under-19 Tournament in Bangladesh in February.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

St Kitts-Nevis receives EC$12.5m from EU as part of sugar adjustment scheme

By Valencia Grant

BASSETERRE, St Kitts -- Prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Timothy Harris, and Cabinet Secretary Josephine Huggins met with the European Union’s ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean, OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Mikael Barfod in Barbados on Thursday morning. The delegation officially learnt from the ambassador that a disbursement of EC$12.5 million (4.2 million euro) to St Kitts and Nevis had been effected one hour earlier.

The reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy in 2006 prompted it to establish a sugar adjustment scheme called the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol countries (AMSP). AMSP supports restructuring initiatives in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that traditionally exported sugar to the EU.

Barfod told the prime minister and cabinet secretary that the country is set to receive an additional disbursement of EC$12.5 million at the end of 2016. This will mark the completion of the sugar compensation programme for St Kitts and Nevis.

“The context is that when the World Trade Organization was created, it became clear that the quotas that the European Union provided to sugar-producing countries could no longer be maintained,” Barfod said during an interview on Thursday.

“We decided to compensate the sugar-producing countries that were amongst our partners for this, which became the sugar measures that we have in place today,” the ambassador added.

According to a press release from the European Union on Friday, “The previous disbursement supported the launch of a juvenile co-educational rehabilitation centre for 30 residents; reform of the Social Development Assistance Act so as to improve implementation of social protection programmes; updating of alternative energy legislation leading to a more competitive private sector and improve energy security for households; the establishment of a land registry; and training for technical and vocational professionals. It is also expected to strengthen St Kitts and Nevis' Public Finance Management System as well as the fiscal space available to government through budget support.”

Barfod said during Thursday’s interview, “There will be more assistance from our side to our partner St Kitts and Nevis over the next four or five years.”

The ambassador stated that future assistance to St Kitts and Nevis would probably come via the EU’s regional program, which he disclosed still has 350 million euros. He said the most recent tenders that are outstanding concern the provision of video surveillance and monitoring because this is the highest priority of the St Kitts and Nevis government.

“That should be delivered soon,” Barfod said.

The ambassador is scheduled to leave his post in September when his four-year term ends.

Of St Kitts and Nevis’ prospects, he said the European Union has observed that the country is now scoring an “enviable” growth rate.

“At this particular point in time, it looks like St Kitts and Nevis has got it right when it comes to economic reforms,” the ambassador noted.

The St Kitts and Nevis delegation also held high-level meetings on Thursday with US ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Linda Taglialatela, and members of her staff; British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Victoria Dean, and Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Richard Hanley and members of his staff.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Sammy blue vex in victory

The West Indies team was determined to win a second World T20 title after criticism by the media and its own cricket board ahead of the tournament, captain Darren Sammy said yesterday. Amid a lingering pay dispute, the West Indies Cricket Board had said it was considering sending a second-string team if the players did not agree to its terms.

“All that happened before the tournament, the disrespect from journalists, from our own cricket board, that was out of order,” Sammy said after West Indies beat England by six wickets in the final at Eden Gardens.

“The only way we could make a statement was by winning this tournament. The hunger for success and victory was there in all of us.”

Sammy also blasted a media report which claimed his players did not have enough “brains” to win at the top level.

“The so-called experts, commentators, journalists did not give us a chance. One said we play with no brains. That really brought us together with the contract issues,” Sammy said.

“At one point, we were wondering if we would be part of this tournament. A lot of things were happening. To come out and play this sort of cricket in front of passionate fans was amazing.”

West Indies became the first team to clinch the World Twenty20 title twice, having also won it in 2012. Marlon Samuels struck an unbeaten 85 and Carlos Brathwaite 34 not out, including four straight sixes in the last over to seal victory with two balls to spare. Sammy said his team had taken inspiration from the success of other West Indies teams.

“This means a lot not only for us as a team but for our fans all over the world. We started the tournament by saying we were inspired by our under-19 boys (winning the World Cup) in Bangladesh (in February) and this afternoon the way our women played to win the (WT20) cup, we had to go out and win it,” he said.

Sammy hoped the T20 success would trigger better performances in test cricket as well.

“We get a lot of stick because of the way we play test cricket. T20 is a totally different format. We are very good in T20 cricket,” he said.

“We don’t play the brand of cricket that can win us tests but I hope this win can inspire our test players to do better.”

Carlos Brathwaite struck four straight sixes in the last over to seal the dramatic four-wicket win for West Indies. West Indies needed 19 runs in the 20th over, which Brathwaite (34 not out) provided in style by smashing Ben Stokes for sixes off the first four balls.

Speaking about the win, Sammy said, “It’s something we’ll cherish for a long time. Every game somebody stepped up. It was good to see Carlos play like that in his debut World Cup. It shows the T20 depth we have in the Caribbean.”

World T20 Hall of Fame
2007: India def. Pakistan by 5 runs, Johannesburg
2009: Pakistan def. Sri Lanka by 8 wickets, London
2010: England def. Australia by 7 wickets, Bridgetown
2012: West Indies def. Sri Lanka by 36 runs, Colombo
2014: Sri Lanka def. India by 6 wickets, Dhaka
2016: West Indies def. England by 4 wickets, Kolkata

Courtesy: Trinidad Guardian

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