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World Travel Guide > Guides > Caribbean > Jamaica

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Jamaica: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Jamaica

Jamaica's business culture is based on respect and polite formalities. A suit, jacket and tie should be worn to meetings. Punctuality is valued and appointments and business cards are expected. Meetings are friendly but formal and brevity is appreciated. Avoid high-pressure sales tactics, which are seen as confrontational. Bargaining is the norm here during negotiations and a lot of time is spent reviewing details before contacts are drawn up. Table manners during dinner engagements follow European protocol.

Office Hours

Mon-Thurs 0830-1700, Fri 0830-1600.

Economy

The discovery of bauxite in Jamaica during the 1940s spawned a thriving bauxite-alumina industry, shifting the island's economy from sugar and bananas. By the 1970s, Jamaica had emerged as a world leader in export of these minerals and today, bauxite accounts for more than half of the country's export earnings.

During the mid 1990s the economy shrunk each year at a rate of 1%. In 1996, Jamaica navigated the troubled waters of an economic crisis that saw the GDP remain stagnant until 2000. In 2005/6, the economy grew by 1.8%. Economic policy has pursued a familiar course of privatisation of state-owned enterprises, deregulation, tight budgetary controls, and reform of the tax and banking systems. The process was supervised by the IMF and aimed principally at reducing Jamaica's large national debt burden. Although these measures improved Jamaica's financial position, it has offered little benefit to the population, with high inflation and unemployment rife.

Today, tourism has become a major source of foreign exchange and Jamaica's economic backbone.

Jamaica is a member of the Caribbean trading bloc, CARICOM, and of the Inter-American Development Bank.

GDP

US$14.03 billion (2016).

Main exports

Aluminum Oxide, refined petroleum, aluminum ore, hard liquor, and coffee.

Main imports

Refined petroleum, cars, crude petroleum, and medical supplies.

Main trading partners

USA, Canada, Netherlands, Russia, UK, China, Japan, Mexico, Panama.

Keeping in Touch in Jamaica

Telephone

There are no area codes. Prepaid international phone cards make the cost of making and international call from a Jamaican land line less expensive.

Mobile Phone

Most of the population now use mobile phones as the preferred option to landlines. Several roaming agreements exist with a number of international mobile phone networks. Some companies offer handsets for short-term rental on a per-day basis. For approximately US$30.00 you can buy a cell phone here to use with phone cards, without the need for a contract.

Internet

As well as numerous cyber cafes, Kingston has several internet kiosks offering free internet connections in shopping malls throughout the city. In rural and resort areas, internet is also available in many hotels, tourist offices and libraries.

Media

Jamaica enjoys a free press and its newspapers frequently criticise the establishment. The broadcast media are predominantly commercial with three terrestrial TV broadcasters and a handful of local cable channels. The main newspapers are privately owned.

Post

Jamaica has two main post offices, one in Kingston and one in Montego Bay. Airmail takes two to three weeks to reach Europe.

Post Office hours

Mon-Fri 0830-1630.