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Overview of Jamaica

Jamaica is situated in the heart of the Caribbean. Its closest neighbors are Cuba to the north and Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic) to the east. A member of the British Commonwealth, Jamaica became an independent nation in August 1962. Kingston, the capital city, and commercial center, is located in the south eastern part of the country. Montego Bay, the second largest city and a major tourist destination, is in the North West. 

Fast Facts

 Capital City:  

Kingston

 Governor General:

Patrick Allen

 Prime Minister:

Bruce Golding

 Official Language: 

English

 Currency:

Jamaican Dollars

 Exchange Rate:

J$60 = US$1 (approximately)

 Land Area:

10,991 square kilometers

 Population:

2,825,928 inhabitants

 Climate:

Tropical

Market Overview

  • For the past two decades, Jamaica’s economic growth has been under 1% per year.
  • Real GDP has been in continuous decline in Jamaica since March 2012, contracting between -1.0% to 0% during the April 2012 - March 2013 period.
  • The global economic meltdown was particularly felt in Jamaica due to the existence of structural impediments such as declining productivity, high debt, and crime. Between late-2007 and 2010, Jamaica experienced thirteen quarters of continuous economic declines.
  • In early 2010, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) signed a US$1.27 billion Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and restructured high interest government debt at lower rates and longer maturities through the Jamaica Debt Exchange (JDX). Only three of the eight formal reviews envisioned for the SBA were completed.
  • In 2013, the GOJ entered into a US$958 million 4-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the IMF, and restructured government debt at lower interest rates and longer maturities through the National Debt Exchange (NDX).
  • Jamaican exports began to increase in 2010, largely due to the reopening of an alumina refinery and an upswing in international commodity prices. Proceeds from coffee exports, which rose as Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee gained near-iconic status in Japan, substantially dropped and highlighted the danger of concentrating on single market sales of a low volume premium product. The demand shock forced coffee players to seek and develop new markets in the United States and China. Nontraditional exports did not fare as badly during the crisis, suggesting these products are not as vulnerable to external demand shocks
  • As of May 2013, the Bank of Jamaica forecasts that during FY 2013-2014 (i.e., April 2013-March 2014), Jamaica will experience real GDP growth of 0.5%-1% and inflation of 8.5%-10.5%.
  • The United States remains Jamaica's main trading partner, generally accounting for about 40% of the nation’s total trade. Jamaica's other major trading partners include Canada, China, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan and the United Kingdom. Jamaica purchases significant amounts of petroleum from Venezuela.
  • Bilateral relations between Jamaica and the United States are good, although the two countries disagree on a few specific issues, such as relations with Cuba, and at times vote differently on issues before the United Nations.

Best Prospects

  • Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals and related products
  • Machinery and Transportation Equipment
  • Tourism

For details click on Country Commercial Guide document at the right column and go to Chapter 4