> Press release: Reducing market distortions could foster growth
This second Trade Policy Review of Jamaica has contributed to a deeper understanding of its trade and investment policy regime. The participation of the Honourable Minister Knight, Ambassador Smith and their delegation greatly contributed to the success of this Review. I also thank our discussant, Ambassador Glenne, and the interventions from many Members, all of which has contributed a great deal to our work.
Members noted that, despite a series of external shocks and the burden of a large public debt, Jamaica has persevered with the reform of its economy. Jamaica was encouraged to continue these efforts, which had yielded consistent, economic growth. Members highlighted the overall openness of the Jamaican economy, witnessed by the large share of trade in GDP.
Members commended Jamaica for its active participation in the WTO, and for advocating an increased participation in the multilateral trading system by developing countries. Jamaica's initiatives to advance special and differential treatment for developing countries were also noted, as were its efforts to enhance south-south trade. Some Members referred to the difficulties that small economies like Jamaica faced in their integration into the multilateral trading system. Different views were expressed on how Jamaica could address the challenge of adjusting to an environment of eroding preferences. Members noted and praised Jamaica's participation and leadership in the CARICOM, and posed questions with respect to the timetable for completion of the CARICOM integration process.
Members agreed that Jamaica had made significant efforts to make its trade and investment regime more open and transparent, including through initiatives to speed and simplify customs clearance. It was observed that Jamaica's applied tariff had declined since 1998, but also that tariffs on agricultural products had increased for some items while the overall average remained higher than on non-agricultural products. Jamaica was invited to narrow the gap between applied and bound tariff rates in order to enhance the predictability of its trade regime. Clarification was sought about some applied tariffs apparently exceeding bound rates. Members expressed concern about the use of non-tariff charges on imports, such as customs fees and stamp duties, noting in particular the impact of stamp duties on certain agricultural products. Members sought information on the scope and economic rationale of Jamaica's various incentive schemes, including export incentives. Questions were also posed on other measures such as technical regulations, state-owned enterprises, SPS requirements, and IPRs.
Jamaica was commended for its liberalization of financial services and telecommunications but was invited to review the monopoly conditions in the electricity sector. The importance of tourism for Jamaica's economy was highlighted. Several Members noted that Jamaica had to date not ratified the Fifth Protocol to the GATS and encouraged it to do so. Jamaica was also urged to table an offer in the current negotiations on services.
I thank Jamaica for the written answers to Members' questions and we look forward to receiving answers to outstanding questions.
In conclusion, Members acknowledged the progress made by Jamaica in restructuring its economy, while recognizing the challenges it faces on account of changes affecting the world economy. Whether those changes are for the benefit of all depends in a fundamental manner on efforts within the multilateral trading system, and thus Members expressed great appreciation for Jamaica's contribution to our collective endeavours in this regard. In a spirit of open dialogue, Members also offered their views on both Jamaica's domestic policies and its negotiating agenda. To succeed, the two must complement each other. I hence welcome Jamaica's plans to continue with its internal reform process, and its active engagement in the Doha Development Agenda, both of which will decisively influence Jamaica's future development.
Finally, Minister Knight and Ambassador Smith, thank you: you have been instrumental in a good review of Jamaica's trade policies.