Paulwell promises funds for apparel sector
Thursday, January 24, 2002
INVESTMENT Minister Phillip Paulwell Tuesday announced a
reorganisation of the local apparel industry, including the
provision of funding to carry out plant modernisation in
response to the continuing decline of the sector in recent
Paulwell told Parliament that the Expot-Import Bank would
shortly be making funds available to players in the "sewn
products" sector to assist them in modernising their operation
as Jamaica seeks to move away from the 807 type garment
production to the high end of the apparel market.
"We will be contracting industry specialists in the first quarter
of 2002 to update the diagnostics last done by Kurt Salmon
(consulting firm) in 1997," Paulwell disclosed. "Then, we are
going to use it as we implement the modernisation action
plan... We believe that we need to gather some more data."
He noted that apparel exports to Europe for 200I grew to
US$85 million, which represents more than the combined
exports of banana, spices and rum and coffee. "Europe has
been the subject of a sustained marketing programme,"
Both Paulwell and his Opposition counterpart, Karl Samuda,
lamented the failure of the much vaunted Caribbean Basin
Initiative (CBI) enhancement legislation, to advance the apparel
industry in the Caribbean region.
The United States Congress passed the Caribbean Basin Trade
Partnership Act in 2000 which opened the way for a wide range
of goods, including textile, to enter the US market duty free.
But before the law could be implemented, US senator Jesse
Helms, the former head of the senate Foreign Relations
Committee, introduced provisions that reduced some of the
trade access previously given.
Samuda, who raised the matter as a resolution in the House,
noted that the US enjoyed a US$2-billion trade surplus with
CBI countries and exported US$19 billion of goods to the
region in 1998.
But Samuda was not impressed by the minister's plans to
revitalise the apparel sector.
"I don't share, quite frankly, the optimism that the minister has
with regards to the activities of his premier organisation,
Jampro," the Opposition spokesman said.
"I don't feel them. I don't get the impression that the activities
are dynamic, forceful, creative, and have a good prospect of
leading to real... growth."
Added Samuda: "We must not be unmindful of the fact that
this amendment to the CBI legislation opened opportunities in
electronic items, handicrafts... recreational items, sporting
good and toys... sauces, spices, jams, medical and surgical
supplies (and) footwear.
"The opportunities abound. It is for us to take advantage of
them. It is for the government to create the atmosphere in
creating the infrastructural requirements that will facilitate an
explosion of the skills of our local people."