Friday, September 26, 2008

US$866m FDI in 2007 - But performance flat from previous year

Published: Friday September 26, 2008

Jamaica says that it pulled in U$866.5 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) last year, a flat performance when compared with 2007 after several years of steady growth.

In fact, the FDI figure released by Jamaica Trade and Invest on Wednesday was approximately 11 per cent below the amount reported by the United Nations in its annual World Investment Report released the same day. But JTI officials explained that their figures reflected up-to-date data, while the UN's used preliminary numbers.

"Theirs is a snapshot in time," said a JTI spokesman.

'Another outstanding year'

At the seminar Wednesday to unveil the World Investment Report, JTI's president Robert Gregory described 2007 as "another outstanding year" for Jamaica in attracting FDI.

However, the US$866.5 million which JTI said investors brought to the island last year was marginally below the UN's recorded figure of US$882 million in 2006 when FDI reached a crest after half a decade of rises.

Based on the UN numbers Jamaica ranked sixth last year in the Caribbean - after the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago - as a destination for FDI.

The Caribbean as a sub-group attracted US$25.4 billion in FDI, or a fifth of the US$126.2 billion that flowed into the wider Latin American and Caribbean region in 2007. FDI in the Caribbean grew by 39 per cent last year.

Gregory told Wednesday's function that tourism investment, at US$197 million, or roughly 23 per cent of overall inflows, accounted for the largest portion of last year's FDI inflow. The sectors nominal dollar inflow was, by the JTI's count, six per cent higher than the previous year's.

Investments in information and communication technology, nearly tripled last year, from US$58.2 million to US$164.5 million, according to Gregory's data. The other significant beneficiary of FDI was the mining, mineral and chemical sector, where investors put US$64 million.

The UN's preliminary figures put FDI outflows from Jamaica last year at US$45 million, down from US$85 million the previous year and its peak of US$101 million in 2006.

In its overview of the hemispheric performance, the U.N expected FDI to and from Latin America and the Caribbean to increase further this year, driven mainly by South America where high commodity prices and strong economic performances in some countries would boost profits.

"However, the level of future inflows into Central America and the Caribbean is uncertain, as the slowdown of the United States economy and a weak dollar could adversely affect their export-oriented manufacturing activities," the report said.

Dionne Rose
Jamaica Gleaner

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