Doing Business JAMAICA

GENERAL OVERVIEW

Known for its natural beauty, resource endowments, tropical climate, lively culture, and phenomenal sporting successes, Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean and the third largest in the region. The country also has the advantage of relative political stability though it has not been spared from the effects of the current economic downturn in other parts of the world. It also has social and economic problems that pre-date this.

During this decade though, Jamaica has liberalized much of its economy, reduced the proportion of the population living below the poverty line, and expanded in particular its tourism, financial services and telecommunications industries.

Jamaica has set as its goal the achievement of developed country status by 2030. This is highlighted in a long term national development plan dubbed Vision 2030 – “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”.

The country has been successful in reaching some important standards that create a favourable business climate. For instance, according to Porter and Schwab’s Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009 (2008), Jamaica is in the efficiency-driven stage of development having attained levels of Higher Education and Training, Goods Market

Efficiency, Labour Market Efficiency, Market Size, Financial Market and Sophistication, and Technological Readiness that are necessary to place it in this category.

Regulatory as well as legislative developments have been integral to the country’s Financial Market and Sophistication, and Technological Readiness mentioned above. Over the past decade the financial sector has seen the strengthening of the regulatory institutions and framework some of which we highlight below.

A perusal of the World Bank/IFC Doing Business 2009 study highlights that Jamaica is ranked 63 of 181 economies in terms of the ‘ease of doing business’. Significantly, Jamaica was ranked 11 and 22 for starting and closing a business, respectively.

Jamaica is open for business and seeks to encourage and grow direct foreign investment into the country. We set out below some essential information about Jamaica and doing business on our Island.

GEOGRAPHY

With a total land area of 4,442 square miles (10991 sq. km.) and a population of approximately 2.8 million, Jamaica is situated in the Caribbean Sea, only 890 km south south east of Miami. Because of its location the island is called on by over thirty major shipping lines, which provides transoceanic and other regional services including customs and cargo clearance services. Port Bustamante, in the capital city Kingston, is situated in the world’s seventh largest natural Harbour in the World. The main seaports include Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio.

RELIGION

Religion comprises of several denominations – Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Evangelical and Rastafarian.

TIME

Jamaica is on Central Time with no change for Daylight Savings Time.

CLIMATE

Jamaica’s climate is one of its greatest attributes – temperatures are warm throughout the year. Our warm and stable weather the basis for economic development through tourism and provides a generally good living environment. However, Jamaica, like most Caribbean Islands and the south eastern United States is located within a hurricane zone and is at risk for hurricanes during the season between June to November.

GOVERNMENT

A member of the British Commonwealth, the democratically appointed government of Jamaica comprises a Governor General appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister who acts as the representative of the Queen of England. The House consists of a House of Representatives (the Lower House of elected Parliamentarians) and the Senate

(the Upper House of nominated Senators). The majority party forms the Government and the minority is called ‘the Opposition.’

Jamaica has a written Constitution which is the supreme law of Jamaica.

TECHNOLOGY & SERVICES

Jamaica is technologically advanced in its communication with competitive services offered by a variety of international telecommunication service providers offering modern and highest quality amenities including: mobile service, ADSL, digital cable, 3&4G Networks and high-speed Internet access. Jamaica has a large volume of telecom and internet data with North America, the Caribbean and Europe. Cable and satellite facilities provide alternative transmission modes to the rest of the world. Digital exchanges as well as mobile and cellular services combine with the latest information technology applications to offer state of the art services to the corporate sector. Jamaica Post as well as private courier services for both internal and international freight and packages is also available.

Island-wide, the electricity and water supply is ample for the population and water is potable. Transportation is diverse, namely the numerous international airlines, passenger and cargo transportation; the completion and commissioning of the first leg of Highway 2000 and the North Coast Highway (and the present construction of the north to south coast leg of this highway) will significantly reduce the time it takes to travel, increasing efficiency and productivity. There are three international airports – Norman Manley International in Kingston and Sangster International in Montego Bay and the recently upgraded Boscobel Airport just outside Ocho Rios. Additionally, improvements being made by the Government on the wide and varied road network leading into every town and district in every parish make motor travel relatively easy. All vehicles must drive on the left-hand side of the road in Jamaica. There is a limited rail network now only used by the Mining and Agricultural sectors.

ECONOMY & BANKING

Jamaica is categorized as an emerging country and consists of a mixed, free-market economy combining both state-owned entities and private-sector organizations. Mining and agriculture are our two most important economic sectors with tourism and manufacturing contributing significantly to the economy.

The Banking Act of 1960, amended in 1992, established the Bank of Jamaica as the country’s central bank. It issues and regulates our currency, the Jamaican dollar and administers exchange control policy (foreign currency trading and licensing of authorized foreign exchange traders). Companies wishing to carry on banking business are obligated to obtain a license from the Minister of Finance, fulfill certain minimum share capital requirements, maintain cash reserves at the Bank of Jamaica and also maintain a specific minimum ratio of liquid assets to deposit liabilities and also make certain information accessible to the Inspector of Banks.

Through the commercial and merchant banks throughout the island you can utilize online and telephone banking to check balances, view account activity, transfer money, pay bills and download account information. The banks through their network of branches across

Jamaica, offer competitive and attractive interest rates for loans, asset management and securities. Business is also done in foreign currency throughout Jamaica and the current rate of exchange is J$89 to US$1 (June, 2011). Regulated remittance services island-wide provide an outlet for buying and selling foreign exchange.

Despite financial problems and economic fluctuations, there is potential for growth. The Government of Jamaica is endeavouring to encourage economic action by providing a wide range of incentives to investors including duty free access for imported materials and machinery.

 Source: Investing or doing Business in Jamaica? An Overview by DunnCox.

Download the complete document here: Doing Business in Jamaica: An Overview

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