Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin health and medical product and service companies may find export opportunities with Jamaican hospitals, clinics and medical product distributors as demand grows to accommodate expansion of this sector.

Diane Edwards, president of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), recently announced that Jamaica's medical talent pool is at a stage where a successful launch into the health and wellness tourism market can be done. “Jamaica’s private dental and medical sector provides services at relatively low cost compared to prices in the U.S., but with similar quality of care,” she noted, and “Jamaica has subsequently been ranked by the 2014 Medical Tourism Index as the second-most-attractive medical tourism destination." Edwards said that as Jamaica advances the development of its medical tourism sector, JAMPRO has been keen on attracting more investments into the health care sector to increase innovation and services for domestic patients and those from abroad.

Jamaica's growing dental and medical markets provide services with a quality of care equivalent to that in the U.S., at significantly reduced cost, Edwards said.

The growth in these sectors represents an opportunity for Wisconsin health care product and service companies in exporting to Jamaica.

The primary language spoken is English. The country is the third-most-populous English-speaking nation in the Western Hemisphere, after the U.S. and Canada. Much of the trade between Jamaica and the U.S. is the result of longstanding business relationships. In this context, person-to-person networking is particularly important. While business can be conducted through telephone conversations, most Jamaican businesspeople are more comfortable with face-to-face meetings when negotiating business arrangements. Agents and distributors are commonly used as a conduit to enter the Jamaican market.

The Jamaica Free Zone Act allows companies designated with the Free Zone status to import items free of customs duties, value-added tax and other port-related taxes and charges. Import licenses are required when importing certain commodities, such as pharmaceuticals. Most goods entering Jamaica are subject to customs duties (excluding those products that are zero-rated or specifically exempted items). Some products must be registered with the relevant local authorities before they are distributed for sale in the market. For example, all products that make health claims, including claims that the products are good for treatment of diseases and other health conditions, are to be registered with the Ministry of Health.

Jamaica is an attractive market for U.S. exports due to its geographic proximity and access to shipping lanes; relatively large English-speaking market; strong commercial and cultural affinity to North America; improving business climate, as reflected in the World Bank 2015 Doing Business Report; and stable democracy.