Diane Edwards, President of JAMPRO and Larry Watson, JCC President (seated) sign the MOU for the transition of responsibility for the JCSI to the Chamber while Marjorie Straw, Special Projects Manager at JAMPRO and Trevor Fearon, JCC CEO (standing) look on.

The services sector is slated for additional attention from leaders of the private sector with the transition of responsibility for the Jamaica Coalition of Service Industries (JCSI) from JAMPRO to the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.  An MOU to this effect was signed between the two parties at the Chamber’s Secretariat on January 23, 2017.

The services sector has continued to outweigh goods in the contribution to Jamaica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Services emerged as the driving force in modern economies, and global trade in services grew faster than merchandise trade from the 1980s onwards.  The need for a National Coalition of Service Industries therefore became evident.

The JCSI, an umbrella organization for associations and other groupings, was set up with a mandate to strengthen and expand the local services sector for national development and for export. The Coalition was established in 2006 as part of a regional, CARICOM-led initiative to encourage the formation of national coalitions to support the fledgling services industry in the region.

This transition was marked by a relaunch of the Coalition also at the JCC Secretariat on Thursday, January 26, 2017. During the relaunch, Trevor Fearon, JCC CEO, noted that the growing recognition of the potential of trade in services to contribute to the resilience and growth of the economy led to the decision to revitalise the coalition. “We will take this opportunity to discuss the new direction that the JCSI will pursue in encouraging and supporting the growth of export services.  The mandate of the JCC in this regard is to support the institutional strengthening and organisational learning of the JCSI with a view to expanding the services sector.

An important aspect of this task is to identify programmes and initiatives to build capacity and competitiveness for services”. Fearon further elaborated that the coalition would be invaluable in fostering creative collaborations and influencing the policies that affect the services industries nationally and regionally.  It would also look at the administrative services to be offered by the JCSI and the mentorship role it could play for those associations which required assistance to achieve sustainability.

Fearon noted that JAMPRO will continue to collaborate with the JCC in sensitising the services sector of the benefits of the JCSI as well as to build awareness among the public and the private sector about the services sector generally. He commented that there was still some uncertainty as to precisely what constituted the trade in services. He explained, “export services include areas of economic activity such as law, health & wellness, management consulting, architecture, engineering, electronic media, entertainment and education.

Orville Hall of Theatre Xpressionz and Kimiko Miller of Dance Jamaica addressing the participants at the relaunch of the JCSI.

The fast-changing developments in information technology have in a sense levelled the playing field because many IT-enabled services can now be delivered from anywhere in the world. Traditionally, we may not have regarded these activities as potentially significant export earners. Happily, this attitude is changing and we now recognise these and many similar intangible products as components of the service industries.”

The launch ceremony included the participation of a number of entrepreneurs engaged in or supporting non-traditional Jamaican service industries. Presentations explored how the current digital environment opens up opportunities for marketing and exporting services.  In so doing it explored various digital platforms, looked at the issue of security and presented case studies on how the entertainment industry is successfully using these platforms to profitably export its services.

Members of the JCSI and the Chamber enjoying the presentations at the relaunch.