“There is no regional manufactures association so we need to develop relationships…I think we have to get that going again, we need a regional association where we can gather and discuss the issues from each country and then agree a course of action,” Brian Pengelley said.
Mr Pengelley, the president of the Jamaica Manufactures Association was the featured speaker at the Dominica Manufacturers Association (DMA) second annual general meeting on Wednesday 22nd May at the Fort Young Hotel.
He noted that CARICOM’s decision to address the lack of representation of the private sector at the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) is a welcomed move.
“The fact is that as manufacturers we must protect our investments and make a profit despite what government does. Therefore, we have to also focus on making our companies efficient through effective management, modernization of our plans energy efficiency and productivity improvement”.
Mr Pengelley called on the manufacturers to ensure that they have “a voice at the table” because they are one of the greatest beneficiaries or losers of free trade agreements and integration movement.
He also called for urgent attention and possible reduction in the cost of electricity in the Caribbean because energy is a critical cost component for the manufacturing sector.
“I think we are both somewhere in the US48 cents range per kilowatt hour, we cannot survive in manufacturing at that kind of rate, it has to come down,” he stated.
He said Trinidad is the only country in the region which has a clear competitive advantage based on electricity generation which is oil and subsidies.
Meanwhile Trade Minister Dr Collin McIntyre suggested to the manufacturers that they need to establish a working relationship with the governments to address issues within that sector.
“Though there are numerous opportunities available for the continued development and expansion of the sector there are challenges. However, for these challenges to be addressed, there must be a collaborative honest working relationship with manufacturers and government,” he said.
The Trade Minister also stated that manufacturers themselves must concede that within the establishment there are structural changes to be made so as to respond to market demands and take advantage of the policy to ensure a competitive and enabling environment.
He urged manufacturers to be creative in their thinking, “brainstorm on possibilities and on market conditions realistically”.
Dominica Vibes News