Jamaica has shown significant growth in its business environment through the implementation of numerous reforms and initiatives aimed at simplifying procedures and regulations for doing business on the island.
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Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), an agency of the Government of Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, promotes business opportunities in exports and investment in the local and international private sector. JAMPRO reported that Jamaica’s sophisticated infrastructure and stable business climate have aided Jamaica’s emergence as a regional hub for trade, and as an important investment destination for major transnational corporations. Jamaica’s global outlook, sound infrastructure, stable business climate and the ease it offers investors wanting to set up a business has encouraged a growing demand for investment. Given its strategic location and relationship with major international markets, Jamaica is a destination of choice for investors and businesspeople.
In the 2018 Doing Business Report Jamaica ranked 70 out of the 190 countries evaluated. This is in fact a fall from 67 in 2017 and 65 in 2016. The drop in the ranking may not, however, be the best way to assess Jamaica’s absolute level of regulatory performance. In the ‘distance to frontier score’ which helps to assess the absolute level of regulatory performance of a country over time, Jamaica increased its score to 67.27 in 2018, compared to 66.70 the year previous. This improvement, according to the World Bank is a result of the implementation of various reforms which have focused on making starting a business and resolving insolvency easier.
There is currently no specific legislation that addresses foreign investment in Jamaica. In despite of this fact, foreign investment is strongly encouraged on the island as it is seen as a source of development for the country and incentives are accessible to both foreign and local firms. Jamaica does not place any limitation on foreign control or ownership. Global investors have much to gain from investment in Jamaica as the government seeks to position the island as the next global logistic hub, an initiative which is supported by the private sector. The aim of this initiative is to reform the business landscape to attract and accommodate more international investors seeking to branch out and locate their operations in jurisdictions that offer a strong competitive advantage with lower operational costs. Efforts are also underway to further improve the ease of doing business in Jamaica, especially by JAMPRO (Trade & Investment Jamaica). JAMPRO is planning to initiate an investment program that starts with Vision 2030, a bipartisan program focused on making Jamaica a developed country by 2030. JAMPRO has six sectors which they use as avenues to promote Jamaica. These sectors are selected based on the strongest industries in Jamaica, which include; tourism, outsourcing, minerals, mining and energy, manufacturing, logistics and agriculture.
Jamaica offers tailored legal structures that meet the varying needs of different types of business, from startups to large enterprises. Anyone intending to go into business in Jamaica must decide on the legal structure best suited to their needs.
There are two basic structures to choose from in Jamaica:
•A Company: A commercial enterprise registered or incorporated under the Companies Act.
•A Business: A sole trader or partnership registered under theBusiness Names Act.
The business environment in Jamaica continues to develop and many reforms are underway to help facilitate the ease of doing business on the island. The country’s reformed and growing framework should be an incentive to encourage investors to capitalize on the business-friendly environment. Depending on the nature of the business it is advised that local counsel be retained in order to ensure that investors are compliant with the applicable legislation.