Economy of Jamaica

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{food, make, wine}
{rate, high, increase}
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Jamaica has natural resources, primarily bauxite, and an ideal climate conducive to agriculture and tourism. The discovery of bauxite in the 1940s and the subsequent establishment of the bauxite-alumina industry shifted Jamaica's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals as foreign investment increased.

The country faces some serious problems but has the potential for growth and modernization. The Jamaican economy suffered its fourth consecutive year of negative growth (0.4%) in 1999. All sectors excepting bauxite/alumina, energy, and tourism shrank in 1998 and 1999. In 2000, Jamaica experienced its first year of positive growth since 1995. Nominal economic growth has continued to the upside approximately in line with US growth since. This is the result of the government's continued tight macroeconomic policies, which have been largely successful[citation needed]. Inflation fell from 25% in 1995 to single digits in 2000, reaching a multidecade low of 4.3% in 2004. Through periodic intervention in the market, the central bank also has prevented any abrupt drop in the exchange rate. However, the Jamaican dollar has been slipping, despite intervention, resulting in an average exchange rate of J$73.40 per US$1.00 and J107.64 per €1.00 (May 2008).[2] In addition, inflation has been trending upward since 2004 and is projected to once again reach a double digit rate of 12-13% through the year 2008 due to a combination of unfavorable weather damaging crops and increasing agricultural imports and high energy prices.[3]

Weakness in the financial sector, speculation, and lower levels of investment erode confidence in the productive sector. The government continues its efforts to raise new sovereign debt in local and international financial markets in order to meet its U.S. dollar debt obligations, to mop up liquidity to maintain the exchange rate and to help fund the current budget deficit.

Jamaican Government economic policies encourage foreign investment in areas that earn or save foreign exchange, generate employment, and use local raw materials. The government provides a wide range of incentives to investors, including remittance facilities to assist them in repatriating funds to the country of origin; tax holidays which defer taxes for a period of years; and duty-free access for machinery and raw materials imported for approved enterprises. Free trade zones have stimulated investment in garment assembly, light manufacturing, and data entry by foreign firms. However, over the last 5 years, the garment industry has suffered from reduced export earnings, continued factory closures, and rising unemployment. This may be attributed to intense competition, absence of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) parity, drug contamination delaying deliveries, and the high cost of operation, including security costs. The Government of Jamaica hopes to encourage economic activity through a combination of privatization, financial sector restructuring, reduced interest rates, and by boosting tourism and related productive activities.


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