President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), John Mahfood, says there needs to be a stronger push for nearshoring opportunities from Jamaica.
Nearshoring is when a companies shift part of their operations to a nearby country.
Mr. Mahfood says Jamaica could get a portion of that pie by helping businesses pivot from Asian imports.
"You can see the advantage. Shipping cost from Jamaica to Miami is less than $2,000, to New York its $2,500 and the transit time is a couple days, versus that uncertainty of shipping from China or the far east," he suggested.
But Mr. Mahfood acknowledged that there are some prohibitive factors that need to be addressed, including high electricity rates.
"It's not an easy sell to say to foreign manufacturers 'Come to Jamaica' because our population and our market is relatively small, so they won't have a domestic market that strong. They will have to justify nearshoring on the basis of what they can do in terms of selling to the region and selling to the US," he said.
"Many years ago we did have something similar to that when we had this 807 garment manufacturing arrangement where companies manufactured here and shipped to the US duty free. That's something that can still work. It's just realising that it's tough. Our electricity cost is high but it should be pursued," insisted Mr. Mahood.
He was delivering the Fair Trade Commission's 20th Shirley Playfair Lecture.