Minister Hill's big, hairy, audacious goal – Jamaica Observer

The torrential support for the just-concluded Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association Expo at the National Arena and National Indoor Sports Complex can easily be read as a manifestation of the magnitude of the nation’s admission that export is the route to the long-pursed growth.
However, make no bones about it, that alone will take us little to nowhere.
If we are to take the interest of the exhibitors and patrons beyond mere pleasantries, the real players in industry must now get to work.
The legwork will not be swift, or in any way be easy, but terms, conditions and other details must now be hammered out at the table of negotiations to truly effect the trade arrangements that represent dollars and cents.
We have been this way before. And, admittedly, the marketplace has been increasingly ready for the taking as we pull out of the novel coronavirus pandemic. So, what is different now? Should we, as a nation, truly hold out hope.
We must.
Senator Aubyn Hill, the minister of industry, investment and commerce, has been making the rounds in an intentional way to, in effect, drum up support for what he has described as a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) of a trade export surplus. He pointed out in an op-ed in our Monday edition that, in the 61 years between 1960 and 2021 Jamaica produced a positive trade balance in only one year — 1966. In fact, he details that the trade balance has become “progressively worse and it is a serious and depressing drag-weight on Jamaica’s economic growth performance”.
We, in this space, are heartened at his target-focus crusade and trust that he will be able to enlist an all-of-Government response towards its success.
Successive administrations have been known for being strong on announcements and ground-breaking exercises and doddering in execution. This mission of export growth cannot suffer the same defeat to join the graveyard of good intent.
Those who know how, and have been doing it, must now join hearts and resources to see this through by the facilitation of a substructure that will roll the conveyor belt to the ports in achievement of the export targets.
And there must be key performance indicators to undergird and measure the movement towards this BHAG. Anything short of a guided process will certainly prove inefficacious.
If the possibility of earning more foreign exchange is not motivation enough, the nation must remind itself that we are a “winning” people. We outclass our potential in so many areas on the world’s stage; ramped up production and export are not beyond us.
Senator Hill tells us that, “It is patently clear that we will not become a wealthy country selling to and trading among about only three million relatively poor people. We may not be able to physically invade new lands, but we can travel to and negotiate new markets for Jamaican products and services. That is the path that Jamaica’s ‘Business Ministry’ — the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce — has been charting since about the middle of last year.”
This must serve as a constant reminder that we can’t expect to do the same things and achieve growth; we must do more.
There still remains untapped value in Brand Jamaica and the export portal must be fuelled and funded to secure this nation’s success.
Onward to the BHAG, Minister.
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