Can a Jamaican Boycott of T&T Goods Work?
Recently, the matter of Jamaicans being denied entry into T&T was a well publicized issue, as seen in the video that was aired on our nation’s television stations. The allegations made by the deportees are now the subject of an investigation. Additionally, Yanique Taylor-Gobin a Jamaican woman who was charged jointly with her Trinidadian husband, Dexter Gobin, on two counts of wilfully assaulting a child in October 2015 is also to be deported. She will face trial on April 21, after which she will be deported irrespective of the verdict because she had been residing in the island illegally.
In response to the deportations, there have reportedly been calls to boycott T&T’s goods. But is such a call justifiable? Even beyond this, can this be a viable option for the Jamaican people at this time?
The truth is that irrespective of the deportations of Jamaicans from T&T, there have been many campaigns in the past for their nationals to ‘Buy Jamaican’. It is just logical for each nation to want to have economic development and as a result be able to purchase local goods and services in preference to imports. The objectives of such initiatives would be to stabilize the exchange rate and at the same time increase employment.
According to Dennis Chung, the author of the referenced article, “Former senator Norman Grant has been at the helm of this initiative, which, in my view, has reaped much success. Even with this successful campaign, however, we have continued to see currency depreciation, high inflation and interest rates, and increased unemployment over the period. So the question is, why wouldn’t things improve if we had such a successful ‘Buy Jamaican’ campaign?”
The reasons for the failure of ‘Buy Jamaican’ initiatives were iterated as follows:
 The campaign was not supported by policies that would sustain a move towards consuming more Jamaican-made products and services.
 Many local producers have not improved the service and product quality to properly compete with imported products.
 The manufacturers are unable to significantly increase the production of Jamaican goods and services.
 Capital long-term investments in locally produced goods and services is lacking.
While Jamaica’s government has created special incentives for its leading industries such as tourism, bauxite, and free zones, the fact is that their attitude to capital investment has generally been uninspiring. The policies have not encouraged capital investors to feel comfortable investing for the very long term in sustainable production. As a result, Jamaican investors are reluctant to risk their savings and pensions in business ideas.
But the fact is that if Jamaica’s government policy was focused on addressing the four most problematic factors in the 2016 Doing Business Report: inefficient government bureaucracy, crime and theft, tax rates, and corruption — then not only would they solve 54 per cent of their business challenges, but they would also see increased capital inflows and employment. Instead they have struggled for years to implement a computerized tracking system for development approvals. Price in many instances is again affected by government policy, which seeks to extract as much revenue as possible without much concern for the survival of businesses and their ability to compete.
Therefore it appears that Jamaica is yet to properly set their house into order. Crime and the government policies have investors reluctant to invest their capital into additional plant and equipment that would improve quality and capacity. Each country will want to increase its manufacturing capacity so as to reduce imports and unemployment. Hence it is necessary for T&T’s manufacturers to continue striving for greater efficiency, but at the same time it is necessary to our immigration authorities to deal with persons that are to be deported in a humane manner.
*** UPDATE 3 April 2016 ***
The twelve Jamaican nationals who were denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago last month were sent back to Jamaica due to their lack of sustainable living means. Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dennis Moses issued a statement on the matter.
Posted by C News Live on Saturday, April 2, 2016
Source: Jamaica Observer Business