Jamaica’s geographic proximity and historically strong links with the United States have encouraged a wide range of U.S. investors and exporters to enter the Jamaican market. The country is the third most populous English-speaking nation in the western hemisphere, after the United States and Canada. The 2.9 million population of Jamaica is comparable to the Baltimore Metropolitan Area (central Maryland), with a US$14 billion GDP that is about one-tenth that of Baltimore.
Much of the trade between Jamaica and the United States is the result of longstanding business relationships. In this context, person-to-person networking is particularly important. While business can be conducted through telephone conversations, most Jamaican businesspeople are more comfortable with face-to-face meetings when negotiating business arrangements. Agents and distributors are commonly used as the conduit to enter the Jamaican market, and relationship marketing is also prevalent. Due diligence and selective partnering with respectable business associates is critical when establishing new business relationships.
U.S. Government Assistance
The U.S. Embassy in Kingston annually produces a Country Commercial Guide which offers insights to U.S. businesspeople interested in entering the Jamaican market. U.S. exporters interested in entering the Jamaican market are advised to contact their local U.S. Department of Commerce export assistance center for advice on exporting. The Export-Import (ExIm) Bank of the United States offers an assortment of financial products including working capital guarantees (pre-export financing), export credit insurance, loan guarantees, and direct loans (buyer financing) to facilitate the sale of U.S. exports. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) offers an array of financial products including loans, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds to facilitate U.S. investment abroad.
Non-U.S. Government Assistance
U.S. firms may wish to contact business organizations that focus on promoting trade between Jamaica and the United States such as the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica and the Jamaica-U.S.A. Chamber of Commerce. Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is the investment and promotion agency of the Government of Jamaica, and its primary focuses are to offer guidance to foreign investors considering investments in Jamaica and to globally promote the branding of Jamaican products. There are a wide variety of small and large private consulting firms with offices in Jamaica.