Economy of Jamaica
Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, and an ideal climate conducive to agriculture and also tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.
Weakness in the financial sector, speculation, and lower levels of investment erode confidence in the productive sector. The government continues its efforts to raise new sovereign debt in local and international financial markets in order to meet its U.S. dollar debt obligations, to mop up liquidity to maintain the exchange rate and to help fund the current budget deficit.
Jamaican Government economic policies encourage foreign investment in areas that earn or save foreign exchange, generate employment, and use local raw materials. The government provides a wide range of incentives to investors, including remittance facilities to assist them in repatriating funds to the country of origin; tax holidays which defer taxes for a period of years; and duty-free access for machinery and raw materials imported for approved enterprises.
Free trade zones have stimulated investment in garment assembly, light manufacturing, and data entry by foreign firms. However, over the last 5 years, the garment industry has suffered from reduced export earnings, continued factory closures, and rising unemployment. This may be attributed to intense competition, absence of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) parity, drug contamination delaying deliveries, and the high cost of operation, including security costs. The Government of Jamaica hopes to encourage economic activity through a combination of privatization, financial sector restructuring, reduced interest rates, and by boosting tourism and related productive activities. SectorsAgriculture
Agricultural production is an important contributor to Jamaica's economy. Sugar has been produced in Jamaica for centuries, it is the nation's dominant agricultural export. Cocoa is grown throughout Jamaica and local sales absorb about 1/3 of the output to be made into instant drinks and confectionery. Other export crops are pimento, ginger, tobacco, sisal and other fruit are exported. Rice is grown around swampy areas around the Black River & around Long Bay in Hanover and Westmoreland parishes for local consumption. Animal Husbandry
Pastures form a good percentage of the land in Jamaica. Many properties specialize in cattle rearing. The supply of dairy products is not enough for local requirements and there are large imports of powdered milk, butter and cheese. Fishing
Jamaica supplies about half of its fish requirements; major imports of frozen and salted fish are imported from the USA & Canada. Forestry
About 68% of the timber cut in 2000 was used as fuel wood while 32% was used for industrial use. The forests that once covered Jamaica now exist only in mountainous areas. They only supply 20% of the island timber requirements. Mining
Jamaica was the third-leading producer of bauxite and alumina in 1998, producing 12.6 million tons of bauxite, accounting for 10.4% of world production, and 3.46 million tons of alumina, accounting for 7.4% of world production. Other minerals present in Jamaica include marble, limestone, and silica, as well as ores of copper, lead, zinc, manganese and iron. Some of these are worked in small quantities. Petroleum has been sought, but so far none has been found. Manufacturing
The manufacturing sector is an essential contributor to the Jamaican economy. amaican companies contribute many manufactures such as food processing; oil refining; produced chemicals, construction materials, plastic goods, paints, pharmaceuticals, cartons, leather goods and cigars & assembled electronics, textiles and apparel. Tourism
Tourism is tied with remittances as Jamaica's top source of revenue. The tourism industry earns over 50 percent of the country's total foreign exchange earnings and provides about one-fourth of all jobs in Jamaica. Most tourist activity is centered on the island's northern coast, including the communities of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Port Antonio, as well as in Negril on the island's western tip. Logistics
Rising to join Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam as the fourth node in global logistics, the Jamaican Government has embarked on a restructuring of the economy, deciding to utilise its location at the centre of North-South and East-West shipping lanes to become the choice of global logistics companies to be the Hub of the Western Hemisphere, serving a market of 800 million, and becoming the gateway to Europe and Africa. ICT/BPO
Over the course of the last decade, Jamaica has made immense strides in developing its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure. Today, the island is a highly competitive and attractive business destination and a regional leader in Information Technology Export Services (ITES).
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