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Given the importance of trade to the Jamaican economy, the country’s Foreign Trade Policy has been centred on maintaining and securing markets for its exports of goods and services under the most favourable terms at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. From 1962 to 1994, the focus was on trade in goods and, within the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) and the United Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the emphasis was on securing development-oriented non-reciprocal trading arrangements, such as the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). Within this period similar arrangements, such as the ACP/EC Lomé Conventions, were secured with trading partners from developed countries. Jamaica also prioritised regional integration through the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Since 1994, with the adoption of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), trade has involved both goods and services. Jamaica has maintained its emphasis on development in the WTO Doha Round negotiations and in negotiations for a Free Trade Area of the Americas and the ACP (CARIFORUM)/EU regional Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Jamaica also supported deepening of regional integration to establish the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). This trade policy agenda has been influenced by global trade and economic developments through the decades.

Revision of the Foreign Trade Policy

Jamaica’s Foreign Trade Policy was initially reviewed in 2001. A decision was taken at the beginning of 2011 to revise the Policy. The aim of the exercise was to take account of developments at the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.

Work on the Foreign Trade Policy commenced in 2011 and included extensive consultations with stakeholders, and the utilisation of documentation from UN Agencies, such as UNCTAD and UNDP, and trade policy documents of other countries. Technical support was provided by regional and other international organisations, and by the Government of New Zealand, through the provision of a trade policy expert to share experiences. In addition, funding for the revision of the Policy was provided by the EU, IDB, the Commonwealth and the Government of Jamaica.

The main objective of the revision of the Foreign Trade Policy has been to fully integrate Jamaica’s Foreign Trade Policy into the National Development Plan – Vision 2030 Jamaica. Doing so required that the policy framework should take account of all relevant trade strategies, projects and programmes, including the National Export Strategy, the National Growth Inducement Strategy, and the National Aid for Trade Strategy, thereby allowing for a “whole-of-government” approach to foreign trade.

The revised Foreign Trade Policy was submitted to the Cabinet in the fiscal year 2016/2017 for further consideration.

National Export Strategy

The Jamaica Promotions Ltd (JAMPRO), with support from the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Commonwealth Secretariat, has developed National Export Strategies identifying, among other things, products and sectors for development.

See the National Export Strategy (2015-2019) at the JAMPRO website;

National Aid for Trade Strategy

Arising from the WTO’s Aid-for-Trade initiative, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) assisted Jamaica in formulating a National Aid-for-Trade Strategy. The Strategy identifies areas for which Jamaica could source increased development support in order to build its foreign trade capacity.

See National Aid-for-Trade Strategy at link: