Due diligence is generally advised before selling to clients directly or through agents and distributors. Several large, established distribution companies in Jamaica import and distribute a range of products, although. smaller companies may be suitable as agents for some products. Demand and markups for products vary, with some companies specializing in high volume and low markups while others distribute goods that ensure a high markup. Due to Jamaica’s proximity and strong cultural affinity to North America, successful business strategies in North America are generally successful in Jamaica.
Trade Promotion and Advertising
Advertising is primarily done through radio, television, newspaper, social and other electronic media, and billboards, including electronic billboards. A number of advertising agencies have national coverage, and Jamaica has a wide range of companies licensed to offer broadcast media services and Subscriber Television (STV or Cable), including a wireless, multi-point, multi-channel, licensee. There are also several Internet service providers.
Radio is the most wide-reaching mass communication medium. The two major free-to-air local TV networks are:
- Television Jamaica (TVJ)
The country also has two morning dailies, one afternoon tabloid, and several periodicals and magazines. These include:
- The Gleaner Newspaper, 7 North Street, Kingston
Tel: (876) 922‑3400
- The Jamaica Observer Newspaper, 40-421/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 8
Tel: (876) 931-7825/7832
- The Star Newspaper (afternoon tabloid), 7 North St., Kingston
Tel: (876) 922‑3400
Prices are largely market driven, with the Fair-Trading Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) responsible for monitoring competition. The CAC plays a role in conducting research and informing the public of price variations. The National Consumer League, a local NGO, plays a watchdog role. Most goods and services attract a sales tax called the General Consumption Tax (GCT). The standard rate of GCT is currently 15%; however, higher, or lower rates of GCT are applicable to certain goods and services. Goods such as alcohol, cigarettes, and fuel attract Special Consumption Taxes (SCT). Utility services, such as electricity, water and telecommunications are regulated by the Office of Utilities Regulation, with the first two requiring approval for price increases.
Sales Service/Customer Support
After-sales service is an important competitive advantage in the Jamaican market and a requirement for an effective sales operator. If a U.S. firm has difficulty setting up its own distribution system, a local agent or distributor may be retained to maintain a trained service staff with a reasonable stock of spare parts. Alternatively, the supplier could offer the customer rapid service from the United States.
Local Professional Services
It is advisable to retain professional advice at the early stages of a business venture to ensure smooth start‑up and compliance with local laws. The Jamaica Bar Association has a large list of members and other professional service organizations include the:
- General Legal Council
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica
- Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica
- Jamaica Bankers Association
- Architects Registration Board
- Jamaica Institute of Engineers
- Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals
- Jamaica Institute of Quantity Surveyors
- Realtors Association of Jamaica
The U.S. Embassy also has a list of local attorneys available online.
Principal Business Associations
All of the below mentioned associations are open to membership from U.S. companies.
American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica – the largest association of U.S. companies, which promotes investment and trade between the United States, Jamaica, and the wider Caribbean region.
Jamaica Chamber of Commerce – assists companies doing business in Jamaica and has influenced the passage of legislation and regulations.
Jamaica Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association - represents manufacturers, exporters, and organizations providing services to these sectors.
Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association - promotes the development of Jamaica’s hospitality industry and represent the interests of its members with government and its agencies and in forums locally, regionally, and internationally.
Private Sector Organization of Jamaica - a grouping of private sector associations, companies, and individuals. The organization influences national policy by promoting discussions with the country’s political directorate.
Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services
There are no areas of the manufacturing or services sectors restricting ownership or business opportunities to foreign or local entities.