Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, says there is improving resilience in the local economy despite external economic shocks in the third quarter of 2019.
“STATIN (the Statistical Institute of Jamaica) reported earlier this week that the Jamaican economy grew in the June to September quarter of 2019 by 0.6 per cent over the June to September quarter of 2018. Modest economic expansion, therefore, continues despite the closure of the JISCO/Alpart plant in the September 2019 quarter and the corresponding 17.6 per cent decline in output in the important bauxite/alumina sector as a result,” he said.
Closure of JISCO
Clarke noted that news of the JISCO closure has been in the public domain for months and the anticipated economic impact has most probably been priced in.
“The closure of JISCO is expected to impact the fourth quarter of 2019 as well. However, the fact that the economy still expanded overall, despite a decline of nearly 18 per cent in the critical alumina sector, as a result of the JISCO/Alpart closure, is a credit to the improving economic resilience of the Jamaican economy,” he outlined.
He emphasised that the international context is important, as the United States-China trade tensions and lower global growth have led to declines in the prices of commodities, including alumina, iron ore, soybeans and copper.
“As a result, growth in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2019 is forecast by the IMF to average only 0.2 per cent,” he said, pointing out that although Jamaica is affected by the same external shocks, the country’s 2019 growth is ahead of the Latin American and Caribbean average.
“It may not be much comfort, but this context is nevertheless important,” he said.