PROFESSOR of International Business and Executive Director at the Mona School of Business and Management Densil Williams says that exports are key to helping small, open economies like Jamaica overcome its developmental problems.
Professor Williams says he strongly believes that, if Jamaica is to reverse its anaemic growth performance, it cannot solely focus on the domestic market.
"To deliver long-run sustainable growth, it has to engage in international business in a significant way," he said.
Professor Williams was delivering his inaugural professorial lecture, titled Beyond the Epistemology: International Business as a Development Tool for Small Economies, to a packed room of academics, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and students of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, last Thursday.
The Inaugural Professorial Lecture has the broad aim of promoting and celebrating the academic reputation of newly appointed and newly promoted professorial academic staff.
Williams noted that a comparison of Singapore's and Jamaica's growth performance since the 1960s will show that export-led growth was instrumental in moving Singapore leaps ahead of Jamaica. More specifically, he pointed out that "Jamaica's average growth rate since the 1960s is about 0.8 per cent, while similar countries like Barbados and Singapore have average growth rates of around 2.4 and 7.2 per cent, respectively.
"These countries all started out with similar socio-economic conditions to that of Jamaica, when the independence movement in colonial countries took shape in the 1960s. Today, their growth performance, especially that of Singapore is vastly superior to Jamaica's," he stated.
He said that Singapore has done well, in part, because it engaged significantly with the global economy.
Professor Williams also provided insights into how smaller firms can participate effectively in the export sector.
"These firms make up the majority of businesses in the Jamaican economy and so, if they are excluded from the export sector, it will mean a significant loss in the opportunity to grow the Jamaican economy in a substantial way," he added.
He also stated that getting the owners of these firms to have a global mindset and not become comfortable with making money only from their domestic operation, will go a far way in moving the export agenda of the small business sector forward.